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Trump Declares DACA Program 'Dead,' Urges US Congress to Act on Border

It was unclear whether the US President, in any new immigration legislation, would support safeguards for people protected by DACA. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Trump's tweets.

Reuters

Updated:April 2, 2018, 11:43 PM IST
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Trump Declares DACA Program 'Dead,' Urges US Congress to Act on Border
US President Donald Trump waves to the media as he arrives with first lady Melania Trump at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, US, after the Easter weekend in Palm Beach, Florida on April 1, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
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Washington: President Donald Trump declared as "dead" on Monday a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and pressed Congress to "immediately" pass legislation to secure the US border with Mexico.

Trump, who has taken a hard line on legal and illegal immigration as president, said in September he was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but gave the Republican-controlled Congress until March 6 to replace it. Congress failed to meet that deadline, but courts have ruled the program can remain in place for now.

"DACA is dead because the Democrats didn't care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon," the Republican president said in a Twitter post.

It was unclear whether Trump, in any new immigration legislation, would support safeguards for people protected by DACA. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Trump's tweets.

DACA shielded hundreds of thousands of immigrants, often called "Dreamers," from deportation and gave them work permits.

In another Twitter post, Trump wrote, "Congress must immediately pass Border Legislation, use Nuclear Option if necessary, to stop the massive inflow of Drugs and People ... Act now Congress, our country is being stolen!"

Congress is in its second week of spring recess, , but taking a hard line on immigration appeals to Trump's conservative base.

Senate Republican leaders have ignored previous calls from Trump advocating the so-called nuclear option, which would involve changing Senate rules so Republicans could more easily overcome Democratic opposition to legislation in a chamber they control with a thin majority of 51 out of 100 seats.

Cindy Agustin, a 28-year-old DACA recipient and immigration activist whose family is from Mexico and who lives in Chicago, called Trump's tweets about immigration and the border "ridiculous."

"More enforcement will not prevent people from coming to the United States escaping war, poverty from their home countries," she said in a telephone interview.

Trump on Monday also reiterated his call for Mexico to stop people from entering the United States, after saying on Sunday he would terminate a major trade accord with Mexico if it does not do more to secure its border with the United States.

The United States is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

BACK AGAINST THE WALL

Trump made building a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico - and making Mexico pay for it - one of his top campaign pledges when he ran for president in 2016. Mexico has refused to pay.

In the past, Trump had said he was open to a deal with congressional Democrats in which they would support funding for the border wall in exchange for protection for the Dreamers.

But on Sunday he indicated that time had passed, writing on Twitter: "'Caravans' coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!"

The mention of a caravan apparently referred to a group of 1,500 men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who are traveling in a "refugee caravan" organized by the U.S.-based immigration advocacy group Pueblo sin Fronteras, whose Spanish name means People Without Borders.

By traveling together, the immigrants hope to protect themselves from the crime and extortion that makes the route through Mexico toward the US border dangerous. They say some but not all of them will seek asylum if they reach the United States.

No immigration deal has materialized in the Republican-controlled Congress despite months of efforts. The Senate considered several immigration proposals in February but rejected all of them, including bipartisan bills and legislation tailored to Trump's requirements.

Democrats had offered at one point to fully fund the wall but rescinded the offer in January, accusing Trump of reneging on elements of a tentative agreement.

In a response to Trump's tweets, the No. 2 US Senate Democrat on Monday blamed the president for the collapse in immigration negotiations.

"The President is blaming everyone under the sun, but he only has to look in the mirror to find the person who turned down six different bipartisan DACA deals from Congress - a few that included funding for his useless wall. This is a crisis of his own creation," Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said in a post on Twitter.

In light of Trump's call for the "nuclear option," a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday noted that Republican senators oppose changing existing rules governing the debate and passage of legislation.

Major legislation usually needs a supermajority to pass the Senate. Without 60 votes in support, the Democratic minority can sink a bill.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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