Thursday 21 September 2017

Donald Trump expected to scrap 'Dreamers' immigrant programme

President Donald Trump has been wrestling for months with what to do about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump has been wrestling for months with what to do about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce that he will end protections for young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, but with a six-month delay.

The delay in the formal dismantling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme would be intended to give Congress time to decide whether it wants to address the status of the so-called Dreamers in legislation.

But it was not immediately clear how the six-month delay would work in practice and what would happen to people who currently have work permits under the programme, or whose permits expire during the six-month stretch.

It also was unclear exactly what would happen if Congress failed to pass a measure by the considered deadline.

The president, who has been grappling with the issue for months, has been known to change his mind in the past and could still shift course.

Mr Trump has been wrestling for months with what to do about the Obama-era Daca programme, which has given nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the form of two-year, renewable work permits.

The White House faces a Tuesday deadline set by Republican state officials threatening to continue sue the Trump administration if the president did not end the programme.

The deadline comes as Mr Trump digs in on appeals to his base as he finds himself increasingly under fire, with his poll ratings at near-record lows.

Mr Trump had been personally torn as late as last week over how to deal with what are undoubtedly the most sympathetic immigrants living in the US illegally.

Many came to the US as young children and have no memories of or connections to the countries they were born in.

During his campaign, Mr Trump criticised Daca as illegal "amnesty" and vowed to eliminate the programme the day he took office.

But since his election, he has wavered on the issue, at one point telling The Associated Press that those affected could "rest easy".

Mr Trump had been unusually candid as he wrestled with the decision in the early months of his administration.

In February he said the topic was "a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you, to me, it's one of the most difficult subjects I have.

"You have some absolutely incredible kids - I would say mostly," he said, adding: "I love these kids."

All the while, his administration continued to process applications and renew Daca work permits, to the dismay of immigration hardliners.

News of the president's expected decision angered advocates on both sides of the issue.

"IF REPORTS ARE TRUE, Pres Trump better prepare for the civil rights fight of his admin. A clean DREAM Act is now a Nat Emergency #DefendDACA," tweeted New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat.

But Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has called Daca unconstitutional, tweeted: "Ending DACA now gives chance 2 restore Rule of Law. Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide."

The Obama administration created the programme in 2012 as a stopgap to protect some young immigrants from deportation as it pushed unsuccessfully for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress.

Daca protected people in the US illegally who could prove they arrived before they were 16, had been in the country for several years and had not committed a crime while there.

As of July 31 2015, more than 790,000 young immigrants had been approved under the programme.

AP

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