World

Trump says US immigration system weakens national security

Report says three-quarters of terror offences since 9/11 committed by immigrants

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said yesterday that the United States' current immigration system weakens national security, as his administration sought the Supreme Court's backing to lift protections shielding 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants from deportation.

Days after Mr Trump sparked an international uproar by reportedly complaining about immigration from "shithole" countries, his administration sought to refocus the debate by tying a series of current immigration programmes to terror threats.

A new report from the Justice and Homeland Security Departments said that nearly three-quarters of the 549 international terror-related convictions in US courts since 9/11 involved foreign-born individuals, including 148 granted citizenship after arriving in the United States.

It also said it had blocked many hundreds more potential terrorists who tried to enter the country both legally and illegally.

Mr Trump tweeted out a link to the report yesterday, in support of White House efforts to end programmes like the green card lottery and family-based migration.

"We have submitted to Congress a list of resources and reforms.

"We need to keep America safe, including moving away from a random chain migration and lottery system, to one that is merit-based," he said.

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions unveiled the report five days after Mr Trump rejected a bipartisan deal that aimed to reform some immigration programmes, partly fund a Mexican border wall, and guarantee the status of the "Dreamers" - immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Mr Sessions described the data as "only the tip of the iceberg".

He said: "We currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.

"This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality - our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety."

Mr Trump lashed out last week at the US judicial system as "broken and unfair" after a judge blocked his decision to scrap the programme that has protected the so-called Dreamers from deportation since 2012, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca).

His Justice Department courted further controversy yesterday when it announced it would appeal directly to the Supreme Court the San Francisco judge's challenge to Mr Trump's order to end Daca. - AFP

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