After pointing out invited guests whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants, President Donald Trump said at his State of the Union speech Tuesday night that he would protect citizens because “Americans are Dreamers too.”
“So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed,” Trump said, according to prepared remarks. “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are Dreamers too.”
The reference — which came after he claimed undocumented immigrants and open borders led to the deaths of the children of four invited guests — appears to be an open attack on immigrant Dreamers, so named for a 2001 federal bill that would grant an earned pathway to citizenship for immigrants who came to the country as children.
On September 5, 2017, President Donald Trump phased out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, calling for an “orderly transition and wind-down” to a program that grants temporary deportation relief and work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. The Trump administration gave current recipients whose statuses expired before March 5, 2018 — one last chance to file for a two-year extension. A court injunction earlier this month partially reinstated the DACA renewal process, with a federal judge ordering the DHS to process all current DACA applications. Yet a pre-injunction estimate found that an average of 122 immigrants have lost their DACA status every day since Trump phased out the program in September 2017.
By virtue of their statuses, DACA recipients ostensibly have lawful presence in the country. But federal immigration agents are still detaining them for potential deportation proceedings. The average age of entry for most DACA recipients is six years old, so most DACA recipients could be deported to countries that they do not know or may be too dangerous for them to go back to.
And it’s possible that the administration would continue to go after these Dreamers. Last week, the White House released an immigration legislative framework that appears generous at first glance — but it’s actually laced with white nationalist policy ideas, and would restrict immigration channels into the United States from mostly non-white countries. Although the framework offers a 10 or 12 year pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, the plan also includes the elimination of the Diversity Visa lottery, which affects people coming from mostly African and Eastern European countries. The limitation on family-based reunification avenues would also disproportionately affect people coming from Latin and Asian countries.
The line drew immediate praise from former KKK grand wizard and prominent white nationalist David Duke.
Thank you President Trump. Americans are "Dreamers" too.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) January 31, 2018
Trump once said he wanted to pass a “bill of love” that would grant permanent protections to the so-called Dreamers, but the proposed changes of his immigration framework represents a dramatic restructuring of the American immigration system — with the long-term impact of making the United States much whiter.