TrumpWatch, Day 227: Trump Threatens to End “Dreamers”— But is He Retreating?

Demonstrators, including DACA recipients, march in New York last week (Hiroro Masioke/New York Times)

Trump steps back from immediate termination of program for undocumented young immigrants

Developments on Day 227 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Trump and the Dreamers
Podcast: North Korea Raises the Political Stakes

Trump Gives Congress 6 Months to Act Over Young Immigrants

Donald Trump is considering an end to the Obama-era program offering about 800,000 young undocumented immigrants the chance to remain in the US, according to “three administration officials briefed on the discussions”.

However, after White House chatter last week that Trump would revoke Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — the “Dreamers” program — Sunday’s line was that he will give Congress six months to come up with a potential replacement.

That shift could indicate Trump is backing away from action, while preparing to blame Congress for “failure” if DACA remains in place. Trump has used the tactic over the collapse of a GOP bill to replace ObamaCare, and the Administration is also passing responsibility for the drafting of tax legislation onto Congress.

A growing number of Republican legislators, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have called on the White House to retain some form of DACA, and Trump’s legislative staff have been in discussions with counterparts from Ryan’s office.

Corporate leaders are calliing for retention, and public opinion polls show overwhelming support for allowing young immigrants to stay and work in the US. Inside the White House, both Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka support the extension of DACA protections.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions and hard-right White House advisor Stephen Miller are pressing Trump to end the program. They are backed by 11 State Attorneys General who are threatening a legal challenge unless DACA is terminated by Tuesday.

The White House said an announcement will be made Tuesday.

Meanwhile, one official put out the line that Trump is sympathetic over the situation of young immigrants, but is being told by Justice Department lawyers that DACA would not survive a court challenge.

However, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told colleagues last week that he cannot see how the State of Texas, can proceed with a lawsuit while engaged with recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.

It is unclear whether the young DACA immigrants will be allowed to renew their protected status during the six-month period.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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