Thousands of Nigerian children in the US face possible deportation following the repealing of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, policy by the country’s president, Mr Donald Trump.
DACA is an American immigration policy set up by the Barack Obama administration in 2012. It has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.
Thousands of Nigerian children immigrants are currently being protected by the policy.
Jeff Sessions, US Attorney-General, announced on Tuesday that “the programme known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded.”
Trump later blamed Obama for bringing the policy through executive authority, giving congress until six months to find a solution to the now vulnerable migrants.
He said: “It is now time for Congress to act. As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.
“We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.
“I have a great heart for these folks we’re talking about. A great love for them and people think in terms of children but they’re really young adults.
“I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”
While the nearly 800,000 migrants will not be specifically targeted, the US department of homeland security said “they could be arrested and deported” if they are encountered by US immigration and customs enforcement officers.
DHS officials told CNN that immigration officers who encounter those affected “will be making a case-by-case judgment as to whether to arrest that individual and process them for deportation”.
Elaine Duke, homeland security secretary, hinted that the future of migrants affected by the move “may now be less certain.”
“I am very aware of the consequences of this action, and I sympathize with the DACA recipient…but I am also frustrated on their behalf,” CNN quotes her as saying.
“DACA was never more than parole — a bureaucratic delay — that never promised the rights of citizenship or legal status in this country. And for that reason, DACA was fundamentally a lie that left recipients in two-year cycles of uncertainty.”
Obama has criticised the move, calling on Trump to stop “threatening the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us”.
The US congress has just six months to act to preserve the program’s protections before the DACA recipients begin losing their status and face likely deportation