President Trump is still reviewing whether to end the Obama-era program that has protected from deportation more than 750,000 people brought to the country illegally as children, senior White House officials said on Thursday.
The officials denied the president had decided to end it, in response to press reports that Trump would announce the decision perhaps Friday.
“My position here today is that the administration is still reviewing the policy,” Trump’s homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, told reporters.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a decision to end the program “has not been finalized,” adding that it is being reviewed “from a legal perspective."
Administration lawyers are studying whether the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, could withstand an expected legal challenge from conservative state attorneys general that could be filed in court as soon as Sept. 5.
Senior officials from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security met last week to discuss ways to end the program — whether to do so immediately, phase it out or decline to defend it in court.
Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail he would end the program and called it "unconstitutional.” But as president, he has said in interviews that he is sympathetic to people who were underage when they came into the country illegally and had nothing to do with the decision to come.
When Trump took office in January, aides had written an executive order that would have phased out the program by halting the renewal of two-year work permits issued to those who had submitted to a federal background check. Trump balked at signing the order.
But pressure on the president to act against DACA has continued to mount from hard-line supporters who see it as part of his promise to crack down on illegal immigration.