DHS chief has doubts about legality of DACA immigration program

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A federal program that protects young immigrants from deportation is likely illegal, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Hispanic lawmakers on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump is agonizing over what to do about the DACA program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the USA as children, he told reporters Wednesday night.

Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that an initiative that grants work permits to more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants may not survive a looming legal challenge. Under the Trump administration, new applicants have still been able to request DACA protection through the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"He's personally for it".

"Jeff Sessions is going to say, 'Deport them, '" a visibly shaken Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said in English and Spanish, noting that the attorney general had been a fierce opponent of illegal immigration as a senator from Alabama. "He said he would consider it".

Obama's 2012 DACA program provides deportation protection and work permits to immigrants who were brought to the USA illegally as children. He said they can "rest easy" and that his administration is "not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals".

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Kelly suggested to lawmakers they work to pass immigration reform, but lawmakers expressed frustration that Kelly seemed to ignore the difficulty of passing legislation and the Republican opposition to extending DACA.

"Again that was a personal observation based on discussions with attorneys", Lapan said.

Kelly declined to take questions after the meeting, but his spokesman said the secretary told the members that the Obama-era program, which shields immigrants brought to the United States as children, is at risk.

There is a pending lawsuit on a related program, deferred action for parents of childhood arrivals, that will come up in September, and attorneys general from 10 states are threatening to add DACA to their complaints, which could force the administration to defend or abandon it.

"I told him straight up that he could prevent the August deportation of Francisca Lino - the wife of a USA citizen and mother of US citizen children in Chicago - just by picking up the phone and he seemed not to know he has that power", the congressman said. They challenged Kelly to attend a press conference on Capitol Hill in support of the bill before the August recess, just like he did when he appeared with Speaker Paul Ryan recently.

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