US & Canada

Donald Trump urged not to scrap Daca policy for young immigrants

Protesters gather at the Federal Building in Los Angeles to show support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme, 1 September 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters gather in Los Angeles in a show of support for the Daca immigration programme

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has urged US President Donald Trump not to scrap an Obama-era programme that protects young undocumented immigrants.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme provides temporary residency for children brought to the US illegally.

It protects hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" from deportation and provides work and study permits.

Mr Trump had previously said that he planned to "terminate" the programme.

The White House now says Mr Trump will announce his decision on Tuesday.

What is Congress proposing?

Mr Ryan urged the president to allow Congress to "work" on the issue.

He said that "conversations" had taken place "with the White House" and that Mr Trump also wanted to find "a humane solution to this problem".

"There are people that are in limbo," Mr Ryan said, adding: "These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don't know another home."

House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi said that she was "heartened" by Mr Ryan's comments and asked him to meet with Democratic lawmakers next week to discuss a "comprehensive legislative solution."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Demonstrations have also been taking place at the White House in Washington

Mr Ryan's comments place him among a small but growing number of Republican lawmakers to speak out against scrapping the immigration programme created in 2012 by former Democrat President Barack Obama.

A hard-line stance on immigration was a major theme of Mr Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and deportations have increased since he took office in January.

However business leaders have argued that immigration boosts the US economy and that ending the Daca programme would hit economic growth and tax revenue.

Where does Trump stand on Dreamers?

"We love the Dreamers," Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. "We love everybody," he said, adding: "We think the Dreamers are terrific."

A small number of Dreamers - a name taken from the failed 2010 Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) which aimed to help young illegal immigrants become US citizens - have been detained since Mr Trump came into office.

Despite his plans to scrap the 2012 Daca programme, as outlined during his presidential campaign, he has since said that he finds the subject "very, very tough".

He has said that he intends to show "great heart" in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, "incredible kids".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWhere do America's undocumented immigrants live?

Earlier this year, the Department for Homeland Security announced tougher enforcement of existing immigration rules, issuing memos expanding the list of undocumented immigrants prioritised for "expedited removal".

The new guidance did not affect Daca recipients, but no detail has since been provided on the programme's future.

What is Daca?

The Daca programme protects roughly 750,000 people in the US from deportation and provides temporary permits for work and study.

In order to qualify for Daca, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security.

They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honourably discharged from the military.

In exchange, the US government agrees to "defer" any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.

The majority of so-called Dreamer immigrants in the US are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

More on this story