President Donald Trump said Friday that “dreamers,” a term used for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, should “rest easy” about his presidency because his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals.”
“That is our policy,” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview.
Trump campaigned for the presidency as a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, pledging to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama administration policy that grants some young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation. Trump’s rhetoric on the issue often drew criticism and alarmed immigration activists during his run for president — starting from his campaign launch speech, when he referred to some Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.”
Since his election, Trump has softened his rhetoric on DACA recipients some, but his administration is nonetheless facing a lawsuit from a 23-year-old “dreamer” who was recently deported to Mexico despite having been granted protected status under the program through 2018.
The AP reports that Trump described that case as “a little different than the dreamer case” but did not elaborate on his reasoning.
The Department of Homeland Security maintains that the deported man, Juan Manuel Montes, had lost his DACA status because he had previously left the U.S. without approval, violating the terms of the program.