More confusing signals on the future of the young immigrants called DREAMers came from the Trump administration over the last week. On Friday, April 21st, President Donald Trump was interviewed by the Associated Press. He said that DREAMers should “rest easy” and that he is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals…that is our policy.” It has now been 100 days since Trump’s promised ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. While the president has not ended the program, he also has not said how long it will continue. 750,000 young immigrants have been hanging on every word from the president and his cabinet officers since Inauguration Day to try to divine the future of the program.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions adopted a similar tone over the weekend, saying “There’s no doubt the president has sympathy for young people who were brought here at early ages.” He said that the DREAMers were not a priority for deportation and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would focus on the “criminal element.” Sessions, long an immigration hard-liner, had also called for the elimination of the DACA program prior to his appointment.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was the third major figure to weigh-in. Echoing Sessions, Kelly said that “the president obviously is sympathetic” to the situation of the DREAMers. He told CNN that ICE is “not targeting them,” in response to concerns that the recent deportation of a DREAMer might indicate a change in policy.
While DACA recipients are happy that Trump has not ended the program, they have been living in immigration limbo for months. Do the sympathetic words from the executive office mean that the program that allows them to live and work legally in the U.S. will continue indefinitely or do they only signify that if the program ends, they will not be immediate targets for deportation? These young people want to plan for their futures and they want to know if they will soon lose the work permits that allow them to thrive here.