Donald Trump Says The 'Dreamers' Might Get Protection After All

A wild 24 hours in Washington D.C. could mean a deal for so-called "Dreamers."

Just last week, the White House announced an end to the temporary Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Today, it appears the administration is a step closer to making it law.

DACA was a program signed by former President Barack Obama, which offered protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The highly controversial program drew the ire of conservatives and some legal immigrants, who say the program made immigration laws obsolete and caused a bureaucratic backlog for the entire immigration system.

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Throughout President Donald Trump's campaign, he promised to deport undocumented immigrants in addition to building a wall along the border of Mexico. After announcing a six-month wind down of the DACA program and imploring Congress to act, it appeared Trump was making good on his promise. But in a surprising reversal, last night Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced after a dinner with the president that they had agreed to do something President Obama could not: trying to make provisions in DACA the law of the land.

"We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly," Pelosi said in a statement. "And to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides."

News of the deal spread quickly. It drew cheers from the left and fury from the right. Conservatives such as Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rep. Steve King blasted the president for what they described as a total reversal on campaign promises to end DACA, deport undocumented immigrants, and build a wall. 

Joel Pollak, a conservative columnist at Breitbart News who was brought to the United States from South Africa legally as an infant, reacted to the news with disappointment.

"Republican voters did not elect Trump in 2016 to pass what Barack Obama could not," he wrote in a column on Breitbart. Pollak did not respond to an email request for further comment.

Meanwhile, liberal activists hesitantly celebrated the news, believing the outcry after the initial announcement that DACA would be ending influenced the president's decision once he saw himself being portrayed as cold-hearted on television and in news reports. 

Quickly, though, reporters and political junkies were whiplashed by the president's response.

After landing in Florida on Air Force One to observe damage done by Hurricane Irma, President Trump told a gaggle of reporters that if they didn't get funding for the wall, Republicans "would become obstructionists." Aside from being a bizarre threat — the Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate — it contradicted the announcement Pelosi and Schumer made.

Just minutes later, Trump indicated that they would handle DACA first and "the wall would come later."

He also, in a confounding way, threw cold water on Rep. Pelosi's comments that the deal might include a pathway to citizenship and no cuts to legal immigration.

"We are not looking at citizenship," Trump said. "We are not looking at amnesty. We are looking at allowing people to stay here."

But amnesty is the very idea of allowing people to stay here. It's a pardon for a group of people — in this case, undocumented immigrants — that would give them more permanent protection than DACA offered. It's not obvious how the president could allow "people to stay here" without amnesty or citizenship. 

That might be why advocates for a law that helps formalize DACA provisions are feeling the momentum.

"The momentum for a clean Dream Act is growing and immigrant youth are on Capitol Hill today pushing for it," Adrian Reyna, director of membership at United We Dream and a DACA beneficiary himself, said in a statement provided to A Plus. "We call on both Republicans and Democrats to ditch the idea that one group of immigrants must endure more pain in order to provide another group with the freedom they deserve."

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