Trump blocked from ending immigrant programme

WASHINGTON • A US judge has blocked President Donald Trump from ending an Obama-era programme that protected from deportation migrants who entered America illegally as children.

The ruling on Tuesday came hours after Mr Trump presided over a high-profile White House meeting with lawmakers from both parties on the fate of so-called Dreamers.

He appeared open to negotiating a sweeping immigration deal that would eventually grant millions of the unauthorised immigrants a pathway to citizenship, declaring that he was willing to "take the heat" politically for an approach that seemed to flatly contradict the anti-immigration stance that charged his political rise.

But US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco issued his 49-page ruling ordering the administration to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known popularly as Daca.

Mr Alsup said the Department of Justice's view that the programme was illegal was based on a "flawed legal premise". He said the approximately 680,000 affected immigrants would suffer too much if he did not put the phase-out of the programme on hold.

Unless his order is overturned by a higher court, Daca recipients will now be eligible to submit renewal applications and the government will be required to "post reasonable public notice" that the programme is once again active.

The so-called Dreamers were protected from deportation under the policy enacted in 2012 during Mr Barack Obama's presidency.

In September, Mr Trump said he was scrapping the Daca programme but delayed enforcement to give Congress six months - until March - to craft a lasting solution.

But earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump had taken command of the White House meeting to coax Republican and Democratic lawmakers towards a compromise on the fate of Dreamers, as a Jan 19 funding deadline approaches and bipartisan negotiations over immigration and other issues have so far failed to produce an agreement.

He lashed out at the US judicial system yesterday after the ruling. "It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our court system is when the opposing side in a case (such as Daca) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts," he said in a tweet.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'Trump blocked from ending immigrant programme'. Print Edition | Subscribe