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Trump administration ends Obama's 'Dreamers' programme

Effort to protect nearly 800,000 undocumented migrants from deportation is rescinded.


US President Donald Trump has scrapped a programme that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the United States without documents as children.

Trump's action, announced by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, rescinds a programme called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The programme, created by Democratic former president Barack Obama, is supported by Democrats and many business leaders.

The Trump administration said no current beneficiaries of the programme would be affected before March 5.

Sessions said the action does not mean the DACA recipients are "bad people".

"To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It's just that simple. That would be an open-border policy and the American people have rightly rejected that," Sessions said.

He said the programme "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs".

The move marked the latest action by Trump that is sure to alienate Hispanic Americans, a growing segment of the US population and an increasingly important voting bloc. Most of the immigrants protected by DACA, dubbed "Dreamers", came from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Jackie Cortes, a DACA recipient who came to the United States from Mexico at the age of nine, said the programme helped her attend secondary school and allowed her to work "the proper way".

"I'm able to feel a part of the place that lived for more than half of my life," said Cortes.  

Trump's action, deferring the actual end of the programme, effectively kicks responsibility for the fate of the Dreamers to his fellow Republicans who control Congress. But Congress has been unable since the president took office in January to pass any major legislation and has been bitterly divided over immigration in the past.

Obama bypassed Congress and created DACA through an executive order.

"The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend," Trump said in a statement after Sessions' announcement.

“In referencing the idea of creating new immigration rules unilaterally, President Obama admitted that “I can’t just do these things by myself” – and yet that is exactly what he did, making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic.”

"In referencing the idea of creating new immigration rules unilaterally, President Obama admitted that 'I can't just do these things by myself" - and yet that is exactly what he did, making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic."

Earlier, Trump had appeared determined to pressure US lawmakers to act. "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" the president wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning before the policy announcement was made.

There were some signs that Congress might be willing to act, with a number of senior Republican lawmakers coming forward to express an interest in protecting the Dreamers.

The president's decision may have been forced by nine Republican state attorneys general, led by Texas, who had threatened a legal challenge in federal court if Trump did not act to end DACA.

A number of Democratic state attorneys general have threatened legal action to defend the programme.

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