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Advocates target Trump as DACA deportation deadline arrives

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), on September 5, 2017. (Reuters photo)

A program that temporarily shields hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation is scheduled to end Monday but court orders have forced the administration of US President Donald Trump to keep issuing renewals, easing the sense of urgency.

In September, Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected hundreds of thousands of young undocumented migrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation.

However, Trump gave Congress six months to develop a legislative solution to provide the path to citizenship for Dreamers.

A court ruling in January by a federal judge in San Francisco, California, required the Trump administration to resume renewals but does not apply to first-time applicants.

US District Judge William Alsup ruled on January 9 that the Trump administration failed to justify ending the program. US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York later issued a similar ruling.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is reviewing Alsup's decision, but legal experts do not expect a decision until June at the earliest. From there, it is expected to go to the US Supreme Court, likely keeping DACA alive through November midterm elections.

Former President Barack Obama established DACA in June 2012 by executive action, giving hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country illegally as children two-year, renewable permits to live and work.

To qualify, they needed to have arrived before their 16th birthday, been under 31 in June 2012, completed high school or served in the military, and have clean criminal records.

Deportation arrests have surged more than 40 percent under Trump.

There were nearly 14,000 people with expired permits who applied for renewals but had not received them at the end of January. There were also nearly 22,000 whose initial applications had yet to be decided.

DACA advocates are using the March 5 deadline to intensify pressure on the White House and Congress for permanent protection. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched a campaign on Sunday to keep the issue up front, using digital and TV advertising as well as local protests and targeted messaging.

Trump’s anti-immigration policies have created outrage in the US and across the globe. Analysts say Trump has fueled racial tensions in the United States with his divisive rhetoric against Muslim and Hispanic immigrants, as well as other ethnic minorities.

Critics say that Trump’s election has emboldened far-right groups and white supremacists and increased levels of xenophobia across the country.

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