Trump’s withdrawal of US immigration policy for children is short sighted

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Donald Trump has suspended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)programme which saves 800,000 migrants who arrived in the US as undocumented children from being deported

Immigration is the four-letter world of contemporary politics around the world. It resulted in Brexit, roils central Europe today, will be a subtext of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s present visit to Myanmar and is being seen by United States President Donald Trump as the means to resuscitate his drooping poll ratings. Mr Trump has suspended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)programme which saves 800,000 migrants who arrived in the US as undocumented children from, effectively, being deported. This has been a particularly poignant issue because many of these migrants came to the US so young – the average age of arrival is six – that they know no other country. The vast majority of them are Latinos though about 7000 are believed to be of Indian origin. Mr Trump was elected on a platform that called for the deportation of illegal migrants and restrictions on immigration as a whole. Implementation of this platform has not been easy. The US has a deeply embedded culture of migration and its laws, judicial precedents and much of its political establishment – Republican and Democrats – are biased in favour of an open door policy. Various Trump-backed anti-immigration actions such as the select ban on Muslim migrants and restrictions on H-1B visas have run into legislative and judicial resistance. But they resonate with his white working class base so he has persisted.
Shutting down DACA is different from the earlier actions. Barack Obama initiated the programme but was never able to make it law. Trump claims he is not opposed to DACA, he just wants the US Congress to convert it into a piece of legislation. Strict constitutionalists would argue the president is right to demand an ad hoc policy be made into law. It is obvious the legal argument is little more than a fig leaf for the US president. So far, it seems unlikely Republican and Democrat legislators would join hands to reverse Mr Trump’s action. But if they did so, it would be a small but symbolic step towards reversing the present global scepticism about what are the otherwise self-evident benefits of human mobility.