DHS memo spares 'Dreamers' granted protection from deportation, Trump presents flexible tone
As a candidate for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump made it clear he would get rid of programs that deferred deportation for certain groups of immigrants -- "immediately," he said.
More than a month has passed since he became president, though, and immigration officials are still taking applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program Trump characterized as "unconstitutional."
The memo revoked prior department memos on enforcement priorities, but excluded two documents, including the 2012 memo on prosecutorial discretion for immigrants who came to the country as children (the recipients of DACA).
More than 740,000 people have been approved for DACA.
After winning the presidency, Trump expressed some leniency toward this group, commonly called "Dreamers."
"We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud," Trump told Time magazine in an interview after the Nov. 8 election. "They got brought here at a very young age, they've worked here, they've gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they're in never-never land because they don't know what's going to happen."
Trump repeated a similar, sympathetic tone after his inauguration.
"DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me," Trump said Feb. 16 in a press conference. "We're gonna deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don't forget, and I have to convince them that what I'm saying is right. And I appreciate your understanding on that."
Since Trump took office, there have been reports of "Dreamers" been detained by immigration authorities, including a 23-year-old in Washington State. ICE said he was arrested based on admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety, though his lawyers have denied that affiliation.
The Feb. 20 DHS memo also excluded from revocation a 2014 memo that expanded prosecutorial discretion to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and which removed an age cap for possible DACA recipients.
The expanded version of DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are on hold after court rulings during the Obama administration halted their implementation.
Trump promised to immediately eliminate programs that defer deportation for some immigrants. This has not happened. We rate this promise Stalled.
Department of Homeland Security, Implementation memo on Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, Feb. 20, 2017
White House, Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, Jan. 25, 2017