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Former President Barack Obama has blasted the Trump administration for scrapping his ‘Dreamers’ programme that grants work permits to illegal immigrants who were brought to America as children.
Mr Trump’s controversial decision to roll back the programme has left the future of nearly 800,000 people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation in the balance.
And in what appeared to be Mr Obama’s most pointed public attack on his successor yet, he said the move to phase out the programme was “cruel” and “self-defeating”.
DACA currently guards 800,000 young people, mostly from Latin America, against deportation, providing work and study permits.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Obama described young migrants affected by the decision as “Dreamers” who have done nothing wrong.
While existing recipients will see no impact for six months, no new applications can now be made.
Mr Obama said repealing the Daca programme he implemented in 2012 was “wrong”, and unfairly targeted young undocumented migrants who know no other life than the one they have built in the US.
“Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.”
Despite bypassing Congress himself over the issue, the former president said: “Now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to members of Congress to protect these young people and our future.”
The decision to scrap DACA was announced by Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s Attorney General. Mr Sessions said that DACA was unconstitutional.
The Trump administration said it was leaving it to Congress to come up with an alternative. It said it would give legislators six months to act.
In a tweet, President Donald Trump said he now looked forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to “address immigration reform in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country first”.
To apply for DACA, applicants under the age of 30 had to have an FBI background check, a clean criminal record and either be in school, have recently graduated or have been honourably discharged from the military.
In exchange, the US government agreed to defer any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.
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