President Donald Trump has decided to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, despite pleas from several evangelical leaders urged him to show "heart" to the young recipients of the scheme.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that new applications will be halted for DACA, which provided the reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday.
"I'm here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Sessions stated, according to The Stream.
However, the attorney general noted that the Trump administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program.
Prior to the announcement, Trump reportedly met with a group of evangelical leaders to discuss the future of the program.
During a meeting at the Oval Office last week, Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia, reportedly pleaded with Trump to protect DACA recipients who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
Pointing to Trump's love for his own children, the pastor reportedly told the president: "I want to see that kind of heart toward these children."
On Monday, Franklin said that he was "concerned to see DACA expire" but he was thankful that the president granted a "generous six-month extension to dreamer kids."
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), expressed his dismay over the decision to rescind the program.
"Hundreds of thousands of Hispanic young people will be overcome with fear and grief today," said Rodriguez, who also serves as part of Trump's evangelical advisory board.
"Simultaneously, a multiethnic coalition of tens of millions of law-abiding US citizens will begin to put unrelenting pressure on members of Congress to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers, whose fate is in question by no fault of their own," he added.
On Friday, Rodriguez announced in a tweet that he and fellow advisers "continue to use our access to advocate for #DREAMers."
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Tuesday has indicated that two-thirds of evangelicals are in favor of giving DACA recipients work permits, while only 22 percent oppose the move. As many as 57 percent U.S. evangelicals say DACA recipients should be allowed to become citizens, while only 19 percent believe they should be deported.
Other findings revealed that 15 percent of U.S. evangelicals believe that DACA recipients should be allowed to become residents but not citizens, while nine percent say they do not know.