Barack Obama
Barack ObamaReuters

Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which protects some children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

DACA protected approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors from deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement about the program being rescinded earlier on Tuesday.

"To target these young people is wrong -- because they have done nothing wrong," Obama wrote in a post on Facebook quoted by CNN. "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."

Though Obama did not mention Trump by name, he sharply criticized the President's motives and insisted that rescinding DACA was not legally required.

"It's a political decision, and a moral question," Obama argued. "Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us."

Obama said he hoped lawmakers pass a bill allowing those eligible for the DACA program to remain in the United States. And he framed the decision as a question of "basic decency."

"This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we'd want our own kids to be treated," he wrote. "It's about who we are as a people -- and who we want to be."

Former Vice President Joe Biden also criticized Trump's move.

"Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they'll be sent to countries they've never known. Cruel. Not America," Biden tweeted.

Sessions explained earlier that the Obama administration created DACA by executive order in June 2012, while it should have been submitted for Congressional authorization.

“In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch,” he said.

“This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens,” he added.​

The Trump administration will allow DACA to continue for another six months to allow Congress to act on the program.