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US judge blocks Trump move to end DACA programme for immigrants

The Trump administration had said in September 2017 it would rescind scheme to shield youngsters brought illegally to the US.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2018 22:59 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
DACA programme,US judge,immigrants
Students gather in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) at the University of California Irvine Student Center in Irvine, California, U.S., October 11, 2017.

A US federal court has barred the Donald Trump administration from discontinuing a regulation protecting people brought to the US illegally as children after the government announced it would scrap the programme in September.

Judge William Alsup in a San Francisco district court ruled on Tuesday to continue the programme. “We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the chief executive (Trump), publicly favours the very programme the agency has ended,” he wrote. “For the reasons DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was instituted and for the reasons tweeted by President Trump, this order finds that the public interest will be served by DACA’s continuation.”

An estimated 700,000 people — with around 8,000 from India — would have been under threat of deportation if the programme was not reinstated.

The White House reacted with anger on Wednesday, saying in a statement: “We find this decision to be outrageous, especially in light of the president’s successful bipartisan meeting with House and Senate members at the White House on the same day. An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump and congressional leaders reached an “agreement to negotiate” a wide-ranging immigrations legislation covering border security, chain migration, visa lottery, and the status of people covered by DACA.

In a closed-door meeting, much of which was open to press, Trump seemed to have opened the door to an ambitious legislation on comprehensive immigration that has eluded his predecessors.

“When you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually -- if we do the right bill here, we are not very far way. You know, we’ve done most of it,” Trump said, when the issue of comprehensive reform was raised by a Republican senator.

In a nod to the complexities of comprehensive reform, he added: “And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care. I don’t care -- I’ll take all the heat you want to give me, and I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans. My whole life has been heat.”

Congressional leaders plan to introduce a bill on DACA in a few days, but during discussions at the White House an emphasis was placed also on stepping border security — a part of which was building the wall Trump had promised as a candidate — and ending the visa lottery for under-represented countries.

Of interest to Indians would be plans to end chain migration, used by Americans of Indian descent to bring over relatives.

“Chain migration is bringing in many, many people … it doesn’t work out very well,” Trump said. “Those many people are not doing us right. And I think a lot of people in the room -- and I’m not sure I can speak for everybody, but a lot of the people in this room want to see chain migration ended.”

Trump wants to replace the practice with merit-based immigration, similar to those being used in Canada and Australia, to bring in qualified and talented people. Immigrations experts say the move could open the doors to Indians, presenting them with another avenue to move to the US other than the H-1B visa.

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 09:50 IST