Trump declares DACA ‘dead’

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump declared as “dead” on Monday a program that protects immigrants brought to the US illegally as children and pressed Congress to “immediately” pass legislation to secure the US border with Mexico.

Mr Trump, who has taken a hard line towards immigration, said in September he would terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program introduced by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, 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.

Senior administration officials told reporters that legislation was being prepared aimed at helping expedite some deportations of immigrants in the country illegally.

They did not provide a timetable for submitting it to Congress and did not say whether provisions to help DACA recipients would be included.

Democrats blamed Mr Trump for the tenuous status of a program that shielded hundreds of thousands of immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” from deportation and gave them work permits.

Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said in a telephone interview: “After the experience of giving this president six different bipartisan options and having him reject them all … I don’t believe we have a reliable partner” in negotiations that are now dormant.

Democrats had offered at one point to fully fund the wall Mr Trump wants along the US-Mexican border, but rescinded the offer in January, accusing the president of reneging on elements of a tentative agreement.

“He walked away — not Democrats,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote on Twitter.

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