While taking questions after a brief statement during a meeting on tax reform today, President Donald Trump claimed that he had "a great love for" recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) exemptions mere hours after his administration announced a policy that would likely see most of them expelled from the United States, the only home many of them have known.
Speaking to the press at the White House about the announcement of his administration's new effort to bring an end to DACA, Mr. Trump said of people who benefit from the Obama-era program, "I have a great heart for these folks we're talking about. A great love for them and people think in terms of children, but they're really young adults."
The president added, "I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly." He continued, "Really we have no choice. We have to be able to do something, and I think it's going to work out very well. And long-term, it's going to be the right solution."
Exactly how a ending DACA would "help" those benefitting from the program remains fully unclear — that is, unless Trump was suggesting that Congress establish a universal amnesty for all undocumented residents in the U.S., an idea he has railed against in the past.
Roughly five hours earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the White House would be seeking an end to the exception that allows some — but by no means all — of the children of undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States to maintain limited residency in the country. Sessions framed the administration's aggressive position as not only a mater of principle or law, but as a necessary step in preserving American security and employment.
Neither he nor Mr. Trump offered any framework for dismantling DACA or any policy suggestions to Congress on how to deal with maintaining residency for the estimated 800,000 individuals under the program or, if not, their expulsion from the country.
Trump professing love for DACA "Dreamers" is nothing new, though today's statements stand as particularly galling and hollow in light of this morning's events. He's consistently sent mixed messages about adoring and respecting dreamers while huffing about expelling them from the U.S. and offering up White-nationalist dog whistles that any ear can hear.
Apparently moments after reaffirming his love for dreamers, the president tweeted:
Outside of the White House, the announcement spurred protests and the scorn of members of the president's own party. Former president Barack Obama said of the announcement, "This action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense."