In a lengthy Facebook post, former President Barack Obama calls President Donald Trump's decision to phase out the so-called DACA program "cruel" and "self-defeating."
"These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants," Obama wrote. "They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they're undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver's license."
The program has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation. The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it is rescinding the program and leaving it to Congress to come up with an alternative.
Obama did not mention Trump by name in his statement but said a "shadow has been cast" over some of the nation's best and brightest young people. He said targeting them is wrong "because they have done nothing wrong."
He called the administration's decision "political" and not required by the law.
"Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us," Obama said.
Obama said he joins his voice with the majority of Americans who hopes Congress will step up even though lawmakers did not do so when he was in office.
"And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country," Obama wrote. "Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated."