Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been granted work permits by the Trump administration under the Obama-era deferred-action program that President Trump had promised to end on his first day in office, according to federal data.
Trump had called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program an “unconstitutional executive amnesty” during his campaign. But statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released last week showed that more than 17,000 new DACA applicants were approved for the program in the first three months of 2017.
In addition, 107,000 immigrants already enrolled in DACA had their two-year work permits renewed during that time, which includes the final 20 days of President Barack Obama’s tenure in January.
The new figures make clear that the deferred-action program for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — often known as “dreamers” — has continued at a robust pace under Trump. This comes despite concerns from some immigrant advocates that the administration would start targeting work permit-holders for deportations.
Trump has waffled on DACA since taking office. In April, he told the Associated Press that dreamers should “rest easy” and not fear deportation. But his failure to follow through on a key pledge to voters has angered immigration hawks.
“It’s a violation of a campaign promise,” said Dale Jackson, a conservative radio host in Huntsville, Ala., who asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer in February why Trump had not ended the program.
Jackson emphasized that unlike some of Trump’s other promises, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act or building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, the president could halt the issuance of work permits through executive decree without congressional approval.
“This is completely within his singular power to do by himself,” he said. “There’s no rationalization I can come up with. The guy said one thing during the campaign and he’s outright not doing it.”