You may have seen the Newsday cover last week that declared that Donald Trump was offering a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers in exchange for building “The Wall.” That was described as a massive expansion of those who would be helped, up a million from the 800,000 or so young immigrants who were protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Anyone who read the front-page headline must have thought that Trump had suddenly become soft on Dreamers.
I won’t go into what Trump was really after with his proposal. Suffice to say, he wanted a lot more than a wall. His proposal would have stolen 2.5 million visas from legal immigrants over the next decade. Any reporter that missed that should never cover immigration again.
What I want to discuss is the so-called DACA expansion that would allegedly grow the number of protected young people by more than a million. How did Trump propose to get to 1.8 million?
You would probably assume that to do so he must have changed who is eligible for the DACA/DREAM Act. Right now, to receive DACA, an immigrant has to have entered the United States by 2007. Did Trump propose changing that? Nope.
Maybe he got rid of the age limit for those applying for DACA who were brought here as children. Again, No.
In fact, Trump is proposing to give DACA/DREAM protections to the same folks who were eligible for the original DACA program.
Experts who I talked to this week said that there are perhaps 100,000 additional children who were too young to apply for DACA when Trump declared that no more applications would be accepted last September who might be able to apply for a new program, but there are not a million more.
So, just for the record. Trump was not really proposing to legalize 1.8 million Dreamers. His program, if it ever went forward, would benefit half that many. Like his Inauguration Day crowd estimate, Trump likes to say something is big even when the truth is a whole lot smaller.