Former President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday it's cruel to send young illegal immigrants back to their country of citizenship, in his response to President Trump's rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"It's wrong because it's cruel to send these young people to places many of them have never lived and do not know. For them this is home. The United States is their home," he said in a statement.
"Instead of punishing them, we should find ways to openly embrace them and to empower them to make their own contributions, as previous generations of immigrants have done," he added.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday DACA would be rolled back under the Trump administration within six months, granting Congress time to pass legislation.
Former President Barack Obama established DACA in 2012 through an executive order, and it applies to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants ages 15-36 who arrived in the United States as minors, protecting them from deportation.
"DACA has brought hundreds of thousands of young people out of the shadows -- allowing them to live without fear, go to school, work, and contribute to America in countless other ways," Clinton said. "These young people's dreams are part of the American Dream. And they make it more real for all of us. Today's decision by the White House to terminate DACA -- and that is effectively what it attempts to do – will crush their dreams and weaken the American Dream for the rest of us."
Obama also criticized the Trump administration on Tuesday for its announcement concerning DACA.
"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," Obama said in a statement.