Visa vicissitudes

By NT Bureau Published on Sep 08, 2017 03:08 PM IST

US President Donald Trump’s latest move in rolling back the pro-immigration policy in America by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has put more than 20,000 Indian-Americans at risk of immediate deportation.

This is indeed bad news for many long-time immigrants who know no home other than the US. Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA.

An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan respectively are eligible for it, as per an estimate. DACA was an attempt to guarantee protection from deportation for some “low-priority” immigrants. It was designed to help a generation of immigrants known as 'DREAMers,' after the DREAM Act, a recurring proposal to allow unauthorised immigrants who grew up in the US to gain legal status and eventually apply for citizenship.

In November 2014, the then President, Barack Obama, announced he was building on DACA with new executive actions to protect groups of immigrants. He proposed loosening DACA’s age restrictions, so that people who had arrived in the US as older teenagers or who had been too old to qualify for DACA in 2012 could apply for protection. And he announced a similar, but much larger, program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans — which would give the same protections as DACA to immigrants whose children were US citizens or permanent residents.

Just as Trump has reversed many other Obama decisions, he has in effect put the clock back on this one. The new executive actions would have expanded the pool of unauthorised immigrants eligible for protection to 4.5 million — nearly half of the unauthorised population of the US.

Consequently, Republicans were not pleased. The Supreme Court ultimately deadlocked on the issue in 2016, and the executive actions were put on hold. With President Trump taking a hard line on immigration, the axe was bound to fall on Obama’s deferred order.