WASHINGTON — Trump administration talking points distributed on Tuesday had a blunt message for DACA recipients: They should "prepare for and arrange their departure."
That guidance appeared in a memo (.pdf) that was sent to stakeholders in the immigration debate by the Department of Homeland Security, just hours after the Trump administration announced it would end DACA, the Obama-era program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation. President Trump is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the federal government drops the program.
The document, titled "Talking Points — DACA Rescission," included 12 bullet points on the program. The tenth bullet contained stark advice for current DACA recipients:
The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States — including proactively seeking travel documentation — or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.
The memo was first obtained and reported by CNN.
A senior White House official told NBC News that the talking points were being distributed to various stakeholders in the immigration battle. The official argued that the talking points "are rational and appropriate as the president tries to find a compassionate, honorable and constitutional way to address this very real issue."
The senior official also noted that the advice to "prepare for departure" is standard for anyone who lacks legal status — and not a specific message to DACA recipients.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration decision Tuesday morning, calling DACA unconstitutional and criticizing it as "unilateral executive amnesty."
The federal government will not accept any new applications for the program, Sessions said. But the administration will allow DACA recipients with work permits set to expire before March 5, 2018, the opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal. Those final expirations would then be pushed back until after the 2018 midterms, which could potentially reshape Congress.