Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Thursday put an official end to an immigration order created under former President Obama that would have allowed undocumented parents of citizens and legal residents to remain in the country for three years.
The plan was never implemented and was put in a permanent state of limbo after 26 states challenged the order. In October, the US Supreme Court declined a request from the Obama administration to rehear the case.
The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, could have affected millions of undocumented immigrants with children in the US who are citizens or legal residents.
Those who have lived in the US since at least Jan. 1, 2010, would have been allowed to apply for permission to work.
Texas Democrats criticized the decision, saying it would harm American families.
"President Trump has chosen to separate American children from their parents, causing harm and suffering," Rep. Joaquin Castro Castro told BuzzFeed News.
"Today's action by the administration is not surprising," Rep. Filemon Vela, said. "But that does not make it any less vicious, especially on the 5th anniversary of DACA. The President is affirming his virulent racism by systemically tearing families of color apart."
Like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, it did not create a path of citizenship for those affected, but would have taken the possibility of deportation off the table for at least three years for law-abiding immigrants who have established roots in the US.
Legislators who supported Obama's immigration policies, said the decision suggested President Trump, despite his previous promises, would not be focusing his deportation-focused policies on immigrants with criminal histories.
"The President said that he was only going after immigrant criminals," California Congressman Luis Correa told BuzzFeed News. "Now he has made it clear that he is going after honest, hard-working taxpaying moms and dads."
Kelly, an appointee of President Trump, rescinded the 2014 order on the five-year anniversary of the implementation of the DACA program.
The order, the statement noted, was placed on hold under a decision from the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld that court's decision, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, leaving the decision in place.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a leading critic of Obama's immigration initiatives, applauded the Trump administration's decision to roll back back the program.
"I am proud to have led a 26-state coalition that went all the way to the Supreme Court to block this unlawful edict," Paxton said in a statement. "The Obama Administration's DAPA immigration edict was a violation of law and the separation of powers."
According to the statement from DHS, the order was withdrawn after Kelly consulted with the Department of Justice and determined "there is no credible path forward to litigate" the order.
The DACA program will remain in place, the statement read.
Kelly's decision came as no surprise to immigration right's advocates, considering the Trump's administration's stance to increase the number of deportations and widen the net of undocumented immigrants considered a priority for deportation.
The decision not to defend the DAPA order in court, however, has continued to feed immigration advocates' concerns over what the Trump administration might do with respect to DACA.
"Although DAPA has been barred from implementation by the injunction issued in an unsupportable legal action filed by Texas and two dozens other states, the withdrawal of DAPA has symbolic importance," Thomas A. Saenz, president and legal counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund said in a statement. "Secretary Kelly could have acted on another day."
The decision, Saenz noted, also came on the same day the Supreme Court issued its decision on Plyler v. Doe, which said undocumented students should receive an education in US public schools.