Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP) President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP)

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP)

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde October 15, 2020

Donald Trump’s false claim of DACA changes ‘because of the pandemic’

If Your Time is short

  • Trump’s administration began making changes to DACA in 2017, during his first year in office. 

  • DACA benefits people who have been in the United States for many years, not those arriving during the pandemic.

President Donald Trump at an NBC town hall faulted the coronavirus pandemic for changes his administration has done to an Obama-era program protecting young immigrants from deportation. What Trump left out, however, is that his efforts to end the program started during his first year in office.

A town hall attendee asked Trump if he would pursue his efforts to cut Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, if elected to a second term.

"We are going to take care of DACA. We are going to take care of Dreamer(s). It’s working right now, we are negotiating different aspects of immigration and immigration law," Trump said. "But we are working very hard on the DACA program, and you will be, I think, very happy over the course of the next year, because I feel the same way as you do about it."

NBC host Savannah Guthrie pointed out that Trump’s administration had actually curtailed the DACA program. She said that no new applications were allowed and recipients have to renew every year as opposed to every two years.

"What happened is because of the pandemic, much changed on the immigration front," Trump said Oct. 15. "Mexico is heavily infected, as you know, and we've made it very, very difficult to come in because of the pandemic and other reasons, and crime."

Trump’s comment left the wrong impression: Trump’s efforts to undo or restrict DACA were not tied to the pandemic.

Trump’s attempt to end DACA started in 2017

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017 announced that the Trump administration was rescinding the program, arguing that Obama’s administration circumvented immigration laws when it created it.

The administration at the time said it would adjudicate applications filed by Sept. 5, 2017, on a case-by-case basis, but it would reject any new requests filed after that date.

Legal challenges to the administration’s efforts have left that program in place, with some caveats. The administration is required to process renewal applications for immigrants who have been granted DACA and want to renew it. However, immigrants who have never had DACA are not allowed to file an application seeking the protection for the first time.

As Guthrie said, the Trump administration also has reduced the length of the renewable DACA protection, from two years to one. Immigration officials announced that specific change in July 2020, in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision related to the administration’s efforts to end the program.

DACA does not benefit people who are newly arriving in the country. To have been eligible for DACA, people had to be continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007, have no felony convictions, and meet other criteria.

About 644,000 people had DACA protection as of March 31, 2020, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigraiton Services.

Our ruling

Trump said that changes to DACA are "because of the pandemic."

His administration began making changes to DACA in 2017, his first year in office. DACA also benefits people who have been in the United States for many years, not those arriving during the pandemic.

Trump’s claim is inaccurate. We rate it False.

RELATED: Republicans and Democrats claim to support Dreamers. So why can’t they pass a law?

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Our Sources

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximate active DACA recipients as of March 31, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Department of Homeland Security, Memo — Subject: Reconsideration of the June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion withRespect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children", July 28, 2020

PolitiFact, Trump-O-Meter, Terminate Barack Obama's immigration executive orders 'immediately', last updated Jan. 11, 2019

PolitiFact, Republicans and Democrats claim to support Dreamers. So why can’t they pass a law?, June 25, 2020

U.S. Justice Department, Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks on DACA, Sept. 5, 2017

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Miriam Valverde

Donald Trump’s false claim of DACA changes ‘because of the pandemic’

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up