Donald Trump targeting US 'dreamer' child immigrants
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump is expected to phase out a program that has protected up to 800,000 young immigrants brought into the US as children.
That's according to two officials cited by the Associated Press who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr Trump is expected to call on Congress to find a solution to protect the so-called "dreamer" children of illegal immigrants who were bought to the US at a very young age.
The announcement brought thousands of supporters of the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to the streets in protest including outside the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
The 2012 executive order signed by former president Barack Obama has allowed around 78 per cent of the estimated 1.1 million illegal immigrants to work and study without fear of deportation.
The White House is expected to announce the program will be terminated on Tuesday with Congress given six months to find a replacement.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that it was a "big week coming up!"
"Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" he wrote.
The issue has proved controversial for years with warnings it could ignite a Republican "civil war".
Advocacy group, United We Dream, is advising immigrants to "remain silent" and not open the door to officials who visit their home while the issue is being debated. It also advises people to "check in with friends and family" and shared details of a suicide hotline.
Mother of two undocumented DACA beneficiaries, Maricela Galvan criticised the Trump administration for "attacking" children.
"Instead of lifting up the triumphs of teenagers and young people with DACA, the Trump administration is attacking them," she said. "(Mr) Trump has terrorised us in many ways, including pardoning Joe Arpaio, a sheriff who took pleasure in ripping families apart. As a mother I will continue fighting for my children and our community."
An immigration crackdown, along with a border wall, was a central plank of Mr Trump's election campaign. However he has previously said he's sympathetic to the plight of children who entered the US very young.
Last week, Mr Trump pledged to deal with the issue with "great heart."
"We love the Dreamers," he said. "We love everybody."
The program effectively offers young people a residence permit for the US and requires they register every two years. Uncertainty over whether this will be extended has led some groups to warn people not to provide their details to authorities and raised fears it will push people into the shadows.
Silicon Valley leaders have spoken out about the issue with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changing his profile to display the message: "#Here to Stay - I support DACA."
Apple CEO Tim Cook similarly offered strong backing for the 250 of his colleagues at Apple who are Dreamers.
"I stand with them," he said. "They deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values."
Former President Obama said upon leaving the White House in January the issue was one that could force him to speak out if he thought "fundamental values" were under threat.
"I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else," Mr Obama said.
"The notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn't do anything wrong themselves, I think, would be something that would merit me speaking out."
Trump's decision on DACA is the ugliest and most cruel decision ever made by a president of the U.S. in the modern history of this country. pic.twitter.com/3k64uuo2XM— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 5, 2017
It's unclear how Congress might resolve the issue but it's possible one bill introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin could pass, giving around one million young people permanent status provided they passed security checks and met other criteria.
Graham said in a statement Monday that he would support the president if he decided ultimately to go through with the plan as outlined.
"I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach. However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who - for all practical purposes - know no country other than America," he said.
But Iowa Republican Steve King, an Iowa Republican who believes that DACA is unconstitutional, warned that pushing the decision to Congress would be "republican suicide".
"That would cause a great big civil war among the Republicans," he said last week.
"We've got enough of never-Trumpers in Congress that are undermining the president's agenda."