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DACA decision 'devastating,' says Catholic Charities president

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporters demonstrate near the White House in Washington Sept. 5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the DACA program is "being rescinded" by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work. CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

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BRAINTREE -- President Donald Trump has begun dismantling a federal program designed to grant young unauthorized immigrants protections against deportation, giving Congress six months to replace the policy.

Set into place by the Obama administration in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program grants permission for unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to work and obtain an education in this country. To qualify, they must have entered the country before the age of 16, have resided in it continuously since June of 2007, and have committed no serious offenses and pose no threat to public safety.

About 800,000 immigrants, frequently referred to as "Dreamers," currently benefit from the program.

Debbie Rambo, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, called the announcement "devastating for families and young people enrolled in DACA."

To give people the ability to work, serve in the military, and gain an education in the United States, only to have that "seemingly taken away," must be "heartbreaking," Rambo said to The Pilot, Sept. 6.

While only around 8,000 Dreamers reside in Massachusetts, over the years Catholic Charities has assisted with "a number of DACA applications." Now, as no new applications can be processed, Rambo said the organization will look for "any other legal pathways at all" for DACA enrollees "to be able to establish themselves here."

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