American ‘Dreamers’ pin hopes on White House change of heart

Republican outcry could persuade Trump to allow child immigrants to remain

President Donald Trump has responded to a chorus of protest from Republicans by postponing a decision about whether to rescind an Obama-era provision protecting undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children.

A decision about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, scheme was widely expected on Friday but has now been put off until Tuesday, according to the White House.

Paul Ryan, the top Republican in the US House of Representatives, who has led opposition to the abolition of the so-called Dreamers policy, said that although President Obama lacked the authority to introduce the provision "these are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don't know another home. So I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution."

Other Republicans to speak out against the phasing out of the Dreamers scheme included Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator, and the former Florida governor Jeb Bush.


Mr Hatch said that although the United States needed tougher immigration enforcement, "we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here."

Facebook and Apple leaders appeal to Trump

Daca, which President Obama introduced by executive order, allowed minors to apply for two-year renewable permits to work legally in the United States and in some cases travel in and out of the country. At least 800,000 immigrants are believed to have benefited from the programme.

Hundreds of business leaders, including the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the Apple chief executive, Tim Cooke, wrote to urge President Trump not to change the provision. Their letter argues that Dreamers play a vital role in the US economy and help ensure US competitiveness.

Mr Trump has reportedly been torn over whether to abolish the policy, and has given mixed messages about the scheme. Despite pledging during his election campaign to abolish the policy on “day one” of his presidency, he promised earlier this year to “show great heart” about the plight of Dreamers.

Mr Trump’s decision will come ahead of a key deadline next week for a lawsuit brought against Daca by Texas and nine other states. In 2015 the 10 states won a federal injunction against a similar Obama policy, aimed at the parents of Dreamers.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent