The United Nations’ (UN) top human rights official is urging Congress to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program recipients lasting legal status in the U.S.
“I hope Congress will now act to provide former DACA beneficiaries with durable legal status,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Monday, according to Reuters.
“I am disturbed by the increase in detentions and deportations of well-established and law-abiding immigrants,” he additionally told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
DACA temporarily shields immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.
“Dreamers,” or those who receive DACA benefits, can also apply for a renewable work permit every two years as part of the controversial measure.
Former President Obama implemented DACA in 2012, and nearly 800,000 people have since become recipients of the program.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month announced that President Trump’s administration would phase out DACA during the next six months.
Trump released a statement later the same day characterizing Obama’s implementation of the program as an overreach of presidential power.
“There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will,” he said.
“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful Democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”
Trump has since repeatedly urged Congress to address DACA during the program’s wind-down period.
Critics have argued that ending DACA may unfairly leave those who entered the U.S. as children subject to deportation.
Supporters of ending the measure have countered, however, that Obama’s creation of the program marked a significant overreach past the president’s powers.