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Trump scraps DACA, triggering protests

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-07 09:20
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Futures of nearly 800,000 young immigrants are now in limbo

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ended an amnesty for almost 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought illegally to the United States as minors, triggering protests in Washington and across the nation.

Under the decision, the Department of Homeland Security will stop processing new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinds the Obama-era policy known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, enacted in by executive order 2012.

Any DACA recipients with a permit set to expire before March 5, 2018 will have the opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal.

So-called "Dreamers" - many Hispanic, now in their twenties - will have somewhere between six and around 24 months before they become illegal and subject to potential deportation.

In a statement, Trump called it "in the best interest of our country" to "begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption".

He insisted he had "great heart for the folks we are talking about, a great love for them" and called on Congress to pass wide-ranging immigration reform - something lawmakers have tried and failed to do for decades.

He said on Twitter: "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

Ivan Ceja, 26, a computer science student and immigrant rights advocate who arrived in the country as a baby, said: "This is the only country I know. My future is here. I'm not going to go without a fight."

An executive order

In Washington, hundreds of people gathered outside the White House protesting the decision.

Francisco Lasso, from Woodbridge, Virginia, a DACA beneficiary, said: "I am protesting because we need to do something. We need to pressure Congress to make it a permanent statute. Right now, it's only an executive order, which could be revoked at any time. It's vulnerable to anything."

Lasso, who was originally from Ecuador, is not optimistic about Congress. "Congress, honestly, I don't think they will do anything. Probably it will just end up being revoked. That's my honest opinion," he said.

Shelley Winkler of Maryland said children who were brought to the US as children have grown up and studied in the country and should not be threatened with being sent back to places they don't know. "That's cruel, vicious and mean," she told China Daily.

"(It's) against our entire history," she said. "I hope the Congress does the right thing, and allows them to stay and to be the productive citizens they already are."

Later in the day, former president Barack Obama called the decision to phase out DACA "cruel" and "self-defeating".

Obama did not mention Trump by name in his statement but said a "shadow has been cast" over some of the nation's best and brightest young people. He said targeting them was wrong "because they have done nothing wrong".

Besides Washington, protests also took place on Tuesday in New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona.

In New York, thousands of protesters marched in Lower Manhattan before walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

"We've always been responsible here, paying our taxes; we haven't taken anyone's job, we pay for everything out of our pocket, not even getting government help or scholarships for school," said Adriana Perez, 33, who arrived in the city from Guerrero, Mexico, when she was 6.

AP and AFP contributed to this story.


Immigrants and supporters rally and march in opposition to the President Trump order to end DACA in Manhattan,New York, on Tuesday.Stephen Yang / Reuters


(China Daily 09/07/2017 page12)

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