Unanswered questions about the decision to end DACA

The Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which protects unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation — has left some 800,000 enrollees in limbo amid uncertainty over whether Congress or the president will find an alternate solution allowing them to stay in the country legally.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s decision to end DACA, but said the program’s termination would be delayed for six months, giving Congress time to establish a replacement program, though talking points circulated by the Trump administration suggest the time is also meant to give Dreamers time to self-deport.

President Trump issued a statement on his decision calling for Congress to take action, but his remarks left unanswered questions over whether he would step in if lawmakers couldn’t reach an agreement.

Here is a breakdown of what is known and what remains unclear.

What is happening now?

The attorney general’s announcement essentially started a countdown for Congress to make some kind of decision on how to adjust or dismiss the DACA program that President Obama put in place in 2012.

The Justice Department recommended to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House that the DHS should begin “an orderly lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program,” according to Sessions.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department, Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington, DC.

What happens in six months?

A literal interpretation of the announcement from Sessions would suggest that the program ends if Congress does not come up with an alternative in six months.

Will Trump step in with a solution?

Trump’s initial statements put the onus on Congress to come up with a solution, but a tweet he posted Tuesday night suggested that he could step in.

“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!” he wrote.

What about DACA recipients who are in the military or law enforcement?

There have been no exceptions to the ruling announced.

What happens to DACA recipients now?

Anyone who has a…

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