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President Barack Obama urged President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration to "think long and hard" before "endangering" the young immigrants who have been protected from deportation through his executive action.
Obama was asked at a White House news conference whether he could shield the 750,000 or so immigrants who provided the government with their identifying information when they applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
On the campaign trail, Trump had said he would immediately repeal all executive actions taken by Obama. Obama authorized DACA through executive action in 2012. Many who have DACA status are in the midst of renewing it or will have to early next year. But a repeal of Obama's executive action would lift any protection from deportation and end their work permits.
"I will urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what for all practical purposes are American kids," Obama said. "These are kids who were brought here by their parents. They did nothing wrong.
"They've gone to school. They have pledged allegiance to the flag. Some of them have joined the military. They've enrolled in school. By definition, if they are part of this program, they are solid, wonderful young people of good character. It is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see suddenly those kids have to start hiding again," Obama said.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Trump said he would focus first on deportations of criminal immigrants but he has not yet said anything new on how he'd deal with DACA.