After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Obama released a statement to respond to the news and to the 800,000 young people now in jeopardy of deportation.
"Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy," he wrote on Facebook. "But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about." He added, "This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag."
Throughout Obama's statement, he continously harkened back to the fact that these dreamers are "young people who grew up in America" who were brought to this country through no decision of their own.
"These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper," he said. "They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English."
Obama recalled how he sought after legislation from Congress that would protect these young people, but a bill never came, he said, which is why he implemented DACA. Contrary to Sessions' assertion that DACA was "unconstitutional," Obama said they carried out DACA "based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm."
"Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question," Obama continued. "Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages." Obama's words addressed the typical talking points Trump invokes when admonishing immigrants in this country and the specific doctrine Sessions mentioned in his announcement of DACA's abolishment. "This action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense," Obama said.
Obama then spoke of Congress, who the Trump administration has forced to make the final decision on DACA's future. "It’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel," he said.
"What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray," Obama wrote in closing. "What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation."
Read Obama's full statement below.