During a speech at a congressional Republican retreat on Thursday, President Trump called back to the signature line from his State of the Union speech — the idea that “Americans are dreamers too.”
The president often struggles to coherently discuss policy details, and made an especially large mess during his attempt to talk about immigration on Thursday.
“I’ve been hearing about DACA for so many years,” Trump said in what seemed to be an ad-libbed aside. “Some people call it Dreamers — it’s not Dreamers, don’t fall into that trap. It’s just much different than Dreamers. As I said the other night, we have dreamers too. We have dreamers in this country too. We can’t forget our dreamers, I have a lot of dreamers here.”
“Dreamers” refers broadly to the 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. “DACA recipients” are Dreamers who are legally protected from deportation under the DACA program, of which there are about 800,000.
Even though they’re in the country through no fault of their own, the legal status of DACA recipients was thrown into turmoil by Trump last fall when he announced he was phasing out DACA and preventing current recipients from applying for an extension after March 5. The White House has threatened to deport undocumented immigrants who lose their DACA protections if no immigration deal is reached by that date.
It’s unclear whether Trump understands these distinctions. But it is clear he’s falling back on his new “Americans are dreamers too” talking point — one quickly embraced by an array of prominent white nationalists as an online rallying cry.
Trump’s immigration proposal would provide Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship, while strictly curtailing other pathways for legal immigration that currently benefit people from mostly non-white countries.
During his speech on Thursday, Trump sounded a dire note about the prospect of a deal being reached before March 5. “We will either have something that is fair and equitable and good, or we are going to have nothing at all,” he said.