Years from now, presidential historians will have a field day debating which was the most egregious of Donald Trumps lies. But all of them will agree that this was one of the worst: "I have a great heart for the folks we are talking about, a great love for them," Donald Trump told reporters on September 5,2017, just hours after he had summarily canceled the DREAMers program and challenged Congress to vote to extend it in six months or else.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was established by President Barack Obama by executive order in June 2012. It allowed young people who had been brought to the United States illegally to apply for protected status, enabling them to stay in the country without fear of deportation, for two years.
Rules were tough: No one with a criminal record was accepted. DREAMers had to renew their status, at their own expense, every two years. And they were never eligible for U.S. citizenship. By 2017, 800,000 young people had applied for protected DACA status, out of an estimated total 1.8 million who fit the DREAMers definition.
Obama created the DREAMers program after Congress rejected several attempts to pass the DREAM Act. If Congress refused to protect the DREAMers, the least controversial players in the whole immigration debate, Obama decided, then he would do so by executive order.
These are young people who were brought in by their parents before they were sixteen years old, and have lived here continuously since 2007. Most are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but know only the United States. They're in school or have graduated, have jobs, pay taxes, and have families. Many of them have served in the military.
And they have broad public support. According to ABC News, in September 2017, when Trump canceled the program, 86 percent of Americans believed they should be allowed to remain in the country. A separate CBS News poll in January 2018 found 87 percent of Americans still agreed.
When Donald Trump took office, 800,000 DREAMers had signed up. The program gave them the opportunity to get an education, get a job, or start a family without facing the constant fear of deportation.
And where did Donald Trump stand on the DREAMers program? Was he for it? Against it? Uncertain? Yes. All of the above. Among other promises made on June 16, 2015, when he announced he was running for president, was a pledge to terminate the DREAMers program immediately--a pledge he repeated...