Trump administration to axe programme protecting 800,000 young immigrants

The Trump administration has announced that it will wind down a programme protecting young immigrants from deportation.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions called Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch".

He said Donald Trump's administration is urging Congress to find another way to protect young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

Mr Sessions said the US needs to have lawful immigration that "serves the national interest", and cannot admit everyone who wants to come to the country.

The president tweeted earlier: "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!"

"Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!" he added in a second tweet. "The forgotten men & women will no longer be forgotten."

The government will stop processing new applications under DACA, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the US.

The administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the programme.

"Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed," Mr Sessions said.

His announcement came the same day as a deadline set by a group of Republican state officials who said they would challenge DACA in court unless the Trump administration rescinded the programme.

Many believe it would not hold up in court.

Mr Trump's plan to take a harder line on young immigrants unless Congress intervenes threatens to emphasise deep divisions among Republicans who have long struggled with the issue, with one conservative warning of a potential "civil war" within the party.

Congressional Republicans have a long history of being unable to act on immigration because of those divisions.

The president has spent months wrestling with what to do with DACA, which he condemned during his election campaign as illegal "amnesty".

Many of his closest advisers, including Mr Sessions, policy adviser Stephen Miller, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, argue that the programme is unconstitutional and have urged him to follow through on his campaign promise to end it.

But Mr Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for the young people protected by the programme, describing the decision as one of the most difficult he has had to grapple with as president.

"I think the Dreamers are terrific," he said last week, using a term popularised by supporters of the programme, which was created in 2012 as a stopgap as the Obama administration pushed unsuccessfully for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress.

AP


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