As the Department of Homeland Security’s director contemplates rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the federal government will no longer accept new applications for the program, and existing recipients will need to re-apply yearly instead of every two years.

The DACA program was authorized in 2012 by President Barack Obama through executive action and gave the children of undocumented immigrants -- known as Dreamers -- the right to stay in the country.

In a memo issued Tuesday, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf wrote, “I have serious doubts as to whether DHS should continue to provide either a reprieve from removal or a grant of attendant benefits to more than half a million aliens through a broad, class-based deferred-action policy. By contrast, rescinding DACA entirely may well create a more pressing need for Congress to decide whether it wants to address this issue and the underlying conditions that led to a population of this size to remain in the United States in violation of our immigration laws for so long, and any other efforts to reform our immigration system in a manner that advances the national interest.”

His memo also says DHS will deny any applications for advance parole unless there are “extraordinary circumstances.”

The Trump Administration has implemented hard-line policies on immigration, with DACA a target since the administration’s first attempt in 2017 to rescind the program.

Wolf’s memo comes about six weeks after the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision rebuked the DHS’s handling of rescinding DACA, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”

Even as immigration advocates celebrated the SCOTUS decision, Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion for the majority left the door open for DHS to revisit other legal challenges. “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Roberts wrote. “The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”

About 825,000 DACA recipients in the country have benefited from the program since its beginning, including 30,000 recipients in New York City of which at least 17,200 New York City residents who are currently active DACA recipients, according to the Center for American Progress.

Antonio Alarcón of Corona, a DACA recipient and co-plaintiff in the SCOTUS cases, said in a phone interview of the changes to DACA that "it is surprising that (Trump) has taken the program away, little by little, despite what the Supreme Court tells him not to do."

A federal judge ruled last month that the administration must immediately begin accepting new applications for the DACA program -- until Wolf's memo was issued Tuesday.

“Trump’s latest attack on DACA recklessly places hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of families in danger. Over the last three years immigrant youth resisted his unlawful attacks on us in the courts and won at every level, including the Supreme Court," Alarcón and the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York said in a statement. “By rejecting applications filed by first time applicants and requests for advance parole, shortening DACA to one-year for renewal applicants, this administration is triggering our fear of being separated from our loved ones, our homes, and the country where we grew up. The administration is once again trying to throw our lives into chaos, by holding us hostage in their political game,” he added.

In an interview this month with Telemundo, the New York Post reported that Trump said he wanted to give DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship. “DACA is going to be just fine. We’re putting it in. It’s going to be just fine. And I am going to be, over the next few weeks, signing an immigration bill that a lot of people don’t know about. You have breaking news, but I’m signing a big immigration bill,” Trump said.

With Beth Fertig / WNYC