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DACA is 'probably dead' because of Democrats: Trump

US President Donald Trump gestures as he boards Airforce One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on January 12, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump says a program to protect immigrants brought into the US illegally as children is "probably dead,” blaming Democrats.

"DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military,” Trump tweeted on Sunday referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Trump also said he wants immigrants coming to the US "based on merit."

"I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST," Trump said.

Former US President Barack Obama created the DACA program in 2012 to enable some young undocumented immigrants in the country to obtain two-year permits to stay legally, work and attend school.

Since it went into effect, roughly 800,000 young immigrants, commonly known Dreamers, were protected by the program, and roughly 700,000 had active DACA protections in September, when the Trump administration announced its end.

Trump has described Obama’s actions as unconstitutional and an overreach of executive power, emphasizing that he will kill the program unless Congress sends him legislation by March to keep it.

The Trump administration said Saturday it would resume accepting DACA renewal requests after a federal judge in San Francisco, California, issued a nationwide injunction on Tuesday, temporarily blocking Trump’s decision to phase out the Obama-era program

Judge William Alsup said the immigration policy must remain in place, noting the US Department of Homeland Security's "decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise."

Last week, the president rejected an immigration deal drafted by a bipartisan group of senators.

Trump’s latest comments about immigrants come amid widespread backlash over his alleged derogatory remarks about certain nations, which he described as “shithole countries.”

During a meeting at the White House on Thursday, Trump reportedly asked why “people from shithole countries come to” the United States, which has prompted rebuke from around the world and once again raised questions about the billionaire's racist attitude.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the US president reportedly asked.

Trump’s immigration policies have sparked protests both inside the US and abroad since he took office in January.

He has taken a tougher stance on immigration from Latin America, most notably with moves to expel hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.

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