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Kelly revokes Obama order shielding immigrant parents of U.S. citizens

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly attends a Cabinet meeting with President Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (AP) (Andrew Harnik)

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly announced late Thursday that he has rescinded an Obama-era memo that sought to shield millions of parents of U.S. citizens and others from deportation.

Kelly’s act fulfills part of a campaign promise that President Trump had made to overturn two of Barack Obama’s controversial memos on illegal immigration. The rescinded memo was never implemented and is the subject of an ongoing federal court battle waged by Texas and other states that opposed Obama’s program.

Thursday marked the judge’s deadline for the parties to set a timetable to resolve the case. Instead, Kelly rescinded the memo, saying on the department’s website that there is “no credible path forward” in court.

However, Trump has let stand Obama’s 2012 memo that has granted reprieves from deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived as children.

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President Trump promised to end these Obama administration policies on undocumented immigrants while on the campaign trail. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post, Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Thursday, Kelly said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, would not change.

“This rescission will not affect the terms of the original DACA program as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum,” the department said online. Kelly said he made the decision after consulting with the U.S. attorney general.

Thursday also marked the five-year anniversary of the DACA memo, which quickly drew attention on Twitter.

“They chose the fifth anniversary of DACA to do this,” Cecilia Munoz, a former senior White House staff member under the Obama administration, posted on Twitter.

“But no change to DACA, thankfully,” wrote Philip Wolgin, managing director for immigration for the Center for American Progress.

Others cheered Kelly’s decision, which many saw as long overdue.

Trump had vowed to overturn both memos on his first day in office, calling them “illegal executive amnesties” that sought to bypass Congress.

“The restoration of our republican form of government advances,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, posted on Twitter. “Next up, end lawless Dreamer amnesty for illegal alien children and adults.”

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The rescinded 2014 memo would have granted work permits and reprieves from deportation to 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders, provided that they passed a criminal background check and met other requirements. It also would have expanded the number of undocumented immigrants who came here as children who could apply for DACA.

A federal judge in Texas temporarily halted that program in a ruling that triggered a fierce court battle that ended when the Supreme Court deadlocked a year ago, crushing immigrants’ hopes.

However, Trump has waffled on whether to revoke the 2012 program, which has aided the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, allowing them to legally work, obtain driver’s licenses and pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities across the country.

The Trump administration has continued to issue new work permits under that program and renewed thousands of others. In April, Trump told PBS that ending the program was a “very difficult subject for me.”

However, his administration has made no apologies about pursuing stricter immigration enforcement. Unlike under Obama, the Trump administration is arresting more undocumented immigrants with no criminal records and pursuing a wall on the southwestern border.