Trump Discusses Potential Relief for DACA Recipients

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore (CC License)

With only two days to go before he takes office, President-elect Donald Trump is still vague about what the fate of the three-quarters of a million DACA recipients will be. He has pledged to end the DACA program on his first day in office, depriving these youths of their work permits and leaving them vulnerable to deportation. However, on Wednesday, January 18th, he told a reporter on Fox & Friends that he is working on a plan for their futures.

Without offering any specifics, Trump told interviewer Ainsley Earhardt, “It’s a plan that’s going to be very firm, but it’s going to be a lot of heart. And we’re going to be looking into that situation…That’s a very tough situation, but I think they’re going to end up being very happy. We’re going to have great people coming into our country, people that love our country.” Trump said that he expected to have a proposal ready to present “over the next two to three months.”

Trump said this week that he considers his “first day” in office to be next Monday, so we likely have to wait until next week to see if he actually ends DACA. Trump’s Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions said last week that he believes the DACA program is unconstitutional. Neither Sessions nor incoming Homeland Security Secretary Kelly gave any indication that they are aware of a plan to replace it.

If Trump does repeal DACA on his first day and then begins work on a program in the next several months that restores work authorization to those who lose those protections, many will have already lost the jobs that they held for several years.

Trump also spoke about tech sector immigration. Trump previously pledged to dramatically curtail the use of H-1B visas by computer companies. In the interview, however, he was at odds with his campaign promise when he discussed a “merit-based” immigration system that would prioritize the entry of these skilled workers. He told Earhardt:

“We’re going to have great people and people of great talent coming into our country…And if you can think of this, some of the Silicon Valley companies want to build up in Canada, because in Canada, they’re able to get the people that they need and they can’t get them in this country because we don’t allow them in this country.”

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.