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WASHINGTON: More than 2,800 Pakistanis and 5,500 Indians will be hit by US President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back Obama-era temporary protections to young people in the US whose parents came illegally.

An additional 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 Pakistan, who are eligible for these protections, could also face deportation, warns an advocacy group called South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The Trump Administration announced earlier this week that it will soon end a protection programme called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This means that more than 800,000 young, undocumented, immigrants could now face deportation.

DACA was implemented in 2012 by then president Barack Obama to provide temporary relief from deportation for people brought into the US illegally as children.

“Ending DACA is the latest evidence of this administration’s utter lack of commitment to our nation’s founding values of equality and fairness,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Our current patchwork of immigration policies and programmes is broken, and we demand Congress does its job to craft a common-sense immigration process that creates a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans.”

SAALT, which has its headquarters in New York, also provided legal assistance to Muslims affected by another decision, announced earlier this year, to ban travellers from some Muslim countries.

In a statement released to the media, SAALT noted that since coming to power in January this year, the Trump administration announced several permutations of the “Muslim Ban”; continually called for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States; rolled back Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA); and supported the RAISE Act that seeks to slash immigration in half within a decade. The administration also encouraged, endorsed, and emboldened bigotry, white supremacy, and hatred toward immigrants, Muslims, and people of colour across the nation, SAALT added.

SAALT points out that while the majority of DACA registrants are from Mexico and Latin American countries, Asian-Americans also make up a significant share of Dreamers, term used in the media to define DACA beneficiaries. Currently around 30,000 Asian-Americans, comprising over 5,500 Indians and over 2,800 Pakistanis, have received DACA.

Estimates placed India in the top 10 source countries for undocumented immigrants who meet DACA eligibility criteria.

An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 Pakistan, respectively, are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top 10 countries for DACA eligibility. “With the termination of DACA, these individuals could face deportation at the discretion of the administration,” SAALT warned.

“Since its inception, this administration has demonstrated a crucial lack of heart, compassion, values, and respect for the law when it comes to DACA and immigration,” said Vivek Trivedi, another SAALT official.

“It is time for Congress to step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform, and for all elected and appointed officials to defend our communities through words and actions. We are here to stay, we have the same rights to America as anyone else, and we are not going away,” Trivedi added.

The CEOs of Apple, Google and Facebook and many other business leaders have all staunchly supported DACA and opposed its termination, citing their need for talented workers in a direct rebuttal to claims that DACA has hurt the American economy

A Pakistani-American advocacy group, Pakistani American Congress, has set up a legal assistance mechanism and urged Pakistanis concerned to contact its chairman, Rana Taj. The group is offering free legal advice to the victims.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2017