Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump has not yet decided whether to end an amnesty for people brought to the United States illegally as children, the White House said Thursday.
Amid rumors that the Republican president may end a program that offered a path out of the legal shadows to almost two million people in the United States, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the policy was still under review.
"A final decision on that front has not been made, and when it is, we will certainly inform everybody in this room," she said.
Under the program, children brought to the country illegally before they were 16 are eligible for a two-year renewable work permit.
The program is known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Then president Barack Obama instituted it in 2012 via executive order.
Around 800,000 DACA permits have been approved and around the same number have been renewed, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump had vowed to end the program and is under fierce pressure by anti-immigrant supporters to make good on the promise.
On Thursday Fox News reported that Trump would stop issuing DACA permits and allow the existing ones to expire.
Recipients fear their legal status could lapse and authorities would be able to locate them easily for deportation.
Business leaders, Democrats and some Republicans have warned that such a move would hit the economy.
They also question the morality of targeting people who arrived as children and may have grown up as Americans.
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said that Trump should uphold his pledge to treat the so-called dreamers with "great heart."
"Give these young folks certainty 2 stay in US, the only country they know," she tweeted.
The policy has also become tied up in a debate about congressional funding for Trump's proposed wall on the border with Mexico.
Some Republicans have suggested a deal could be reached for the permit system to remain in place if Congress agrees to release funding for the wall.
White House officials offered differing views on when Trump may make a decision. Some said it could come this week and others said it would have to wait until after mega-storm Harvey subsides.
Texas alone has issued over 200,000 permits or renewals, according to the Department of Homeland Security.