SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – President Donald Trump lashed out on Wednesday (Jan 10) at the US judicial system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his decision to end a programme that protects so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.
The White House earlier had called the ruling Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco “outrageous,” coming the same day Trump met lawmakers from both camps on the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, programme.
“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,” Trump said in a tweet.
The Daca programme, instituted by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children.
In a high-profile, on-camera meeting at the White House, Trump had urged leaders from both parties to compromise on the fate of the Dreamers while at the same time insisting on the need for a his controversial wall along the Mexican border.
But the unusual public display of presidential dealmaking was jarred soon after by Alsup’s ruling ordering the administration to maintain the programme nationally pending the resolution of a court challenge.
Alsup questioned the validity of the Justice Department’s argument that Daca had been illegally implemented, saying it was based on a “flawed legal premise.” Unless Alsup’s order is overturned by a higher court, former Daca recipients will now be eligible to submit renewal applications and the government will be required to “post reasonable public notice” that the program is once again active.
Trump said in September he was scrapping the Daca programme but delayed enforcement to give Congress six months – until March – to craft a lasting solution.
“An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Wednesday.
“President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration,” she said.
The development is the latest in a series of battles in which Trump actions aimed at curbing immigration have run into trouble in the courts.
The US Supreme Court last month allowed the implementation of Trump’s ban on travel from eight countries, six of them predominantly Muslim, but only after two previous versions were blocked by the courts.
In his White House meeting with lawmakers, Trump signalled that he was open to more comprehensive immigration reform to address millions of other undocumented people living in the shadows, as long as Democrats are willing to countenance greater border security, including through a wall with Mexico.
“It should be a Bill of love,” Trump said of a measure under negotiation that would protect hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from deportation.
“But it also has to be a Bill where we’re able to secure our border. Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace. A lot of people are coming in that we can’t have,” Trump added, urging lawmakers to “put country before party” and strike a quick solution.
'TAKE THE HEAT'
Trump, seated at a long table with some two dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate, presided over the bipartisan talks, allowing journalists rare access to nearly an hour of the meeting.
The president said he would “take the heat” politically if lawmakers were to move toward broader action that would provide a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
“You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform,” he told Senator Lindsey Graham, after the Republican lawmaker floated the idea of more sweeping legislation.
“You created an opportunity here, Mr President, and you need to close the deal,” Graham told him as TV cameras rolled.
Trump’s position appeared at odds with his 2016 campaign, when his platform focused largely on border security and immigration curtailment, and many of his core supporters raged at the prospect of legalising millions of undocumented immigrants.