WASHINGTON: With a deadline looming, President Donald Trump remains torn over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children — a decision that will draw fury no matter what he decides.

Trump railed against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during his campaign, slamming it as illegal “amnesty.” But he changed his tune after the election, calling DACA one of the most difficult issues he’s grappled with. The program has given nearly 800,000 people a reprieve from deportations. It has also provided the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits — permits the Trump administration has continued to grant as the president has mulled the issue.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said DACA was still the subject of “a very lengthy review” process. “It’s something that’s still being discussed and a final decision hasn’t been made,” she said.

Activists on both sides of the issue — as well as some people close to the White House — strongly expect the president to announce as soon as this week that he will move to dismantle the program, perhaps by halting new applications and renewals.

But others caution that Trump remains torn as he faces a Sept. 5 deadline set by a group of Republican state lawmakers, who are threatening to challenge DACA in court if the administration does not start to dismantle it by then.

To buy more time, administration officials have considered asking the lawmakers to push back their deadline by several months, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said such a delay was seen as a chance to avoid forcing a contentious immigration showdown in Congress at the same time lawmakers are trying to pass a budget deal, raise the debt ceiling and provide relief for states devastated by Harvey.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, leading the group threatening to sue, is likely to be consumed by storm recovery efforts in coming months, providing possible cover for the delay.

Trump could also simply ignore the deadline, leaving the matter up to Congress and the courts.

Trump’s administration has been split, as usual, between immigration hard-liners such as senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argue DACA is unconstitutional, and more moderate individuals who want to protect the so-called “dreamers,” according to people close to the administration.