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Trump holds fate of 800,000 young immigrants in his hands


President Donald Trump was to announce Tuesday whether he plans to end an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of people brought to the United States illegally as minors and who are largely integrated into US society.

But Trump, in an early morning tweet, indicated that he may delay moves to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” the president wrote on Twitter.

The tweet suggested that the White House, rather than ending the program outright, plans to give Congress time to find a solution for the approximately 800,000 “Dreamers,” most of them from Latin American countries.

Barack Obama implemented the DACA program five years ago to help bring the children of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows of illegality, permitting them to study and work without fear.

The debate over DACA has been intense, and for days White House officials have insisted that numerous options are under consideration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is to make the announcement on the fate of DACA at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) but will apparently not be taking questions.

According to The New York Times, Trump will delay a decision on whether to end the program for six months and hand the thorny issue over to Congress.

Several Republican lawmakers have warned Trump, who ran for president on a pledge to be tough on illegal immigration, against cancelling the popular program.

“We as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents,” said Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, summing up the concern of many people.

But chances of a badly divided Congress reaching a solution on immigration reform in months — a task that has eluded them for years — appear dim.

Trump, despite his inflammatory campaign-trail diatribes against immigration, has publicly agonized and wavered over the fate of the young immigrants since arriving in the White House.

Many could face deportation if DACA is rolled back.

Calling his decision one of the most difficult facing him, he has promised to deal with DACA with “great heart.”

“We love the Dreamers,” he said Friday during a brief exchange with reporters in the Oval Office.

He added, “We love everybody.”

– Silicon Valley headwinds –

Trump advisers indicated over the weekend that the president’s decision would be guided as well by economic considerations.

The president “wants to do what’s fair to the American worker, what’s fair to people in this country who are competing for jobs,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News.

Much of the business world, especially the high-tech firms of California’s Silicon Valley, stands firmly against a DACA repeal. The program offers the equivalent of a residence permit — renewable every two years — to young people who were under the age of 16 when they arrived and have no criminal record.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed his profile on the social network on Saturday, adding a simple message to his photo: “#Here to Stay — I support DACA.”

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.”

Trump’s decision might also prompt Obama to speak out.

During his final White House news conference on January 18, Obama said he wanted to stay out of the spotlight, but he also listed the conditions that might cause him to break his silence if the country’s “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,” Obama said.

He noted that many were attending college or serving in the military.

“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,” Obama said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has threatened to sue the Trump administration if the DACA program is revoked.

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