President Obama released a statement on his Facebook page Tuesday calling the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program "contrary to our spirit, and to common sense."
"These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper," Obama wrote. "They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. 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."
Obama said his administration had urged Congress to write legislation that would allow people who came to the U.S. illegally to stay and earn citizenship "if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military," but the bill never came.
"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.
Obama said the DACA program was implemented on "the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike."
"Our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm," Obama wrote. "Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result."
With the decision to end to the DACA program, Obama said, a "shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again." He called the move "wrong," "self-defeating" and "cruel."
"To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel," the former president wrote.
Obama expressed concern about what would happen to Dreamers and called the decision to end DACA "a political decision, and a moral question."
"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," he wrote.
Kicking out Dreamers won't lower unemployment, reduce taxes or raise wages, Obama wrote.
"It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today," the former president wrote.
Obama called on Congress to help those affected by Tuesday's announcement.
"Now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future," Obama wrote. "I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel."
Obama said Americans' response to the Trump administration's decision to rescind DACA will determine "who we are as a people -- and who we want to be."
"What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray," Obama wrote. "What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union."