Pressing forward in his plans to crack down on what he described as the nation’s loose immigration system, President Trump told reporters Thursday that he’s still struggling to formulate a policy on how to deal with so-called DREAMers, people who immigrated illegally to the U.S. but were given amnesty under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
“This is a very, very difficult for me, … one of the most difficult subjects,” Trump said when asked if he would continue the program, which was initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2012. “I find it very, very hard doing what the law says to do.”
Roughly 750,000 people have been approved for tentative legal status under DACA. While Trump has vowed to crack down on immigration laws, he’s offered few specifics on how he would handle the DREAMers.
During the campaign, Trump said he would revoke DACA, but he has since muddled his position on the issue. His comments Thursday are the latest sign that Trump may ultimately take less hard-line immigration stances than he offered during the Republican primaries.
The question of whether he revokes the program and how he handles those given amnesty under it has been described by those on both sides of the issue as one of the crucial early tests of his presidency.
But Trump seemed to have no clear answer, telling reporters repeatedly that it was a “difficult thing.” “You have these incredible kids… mostly,” he said, though he added that some were “gang members and drug dealers,” which made the situation more difficult.
It was unclear if the president was referring to a DACA recipient who was arrested by immigration agents in Washington state last week. Agents say Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, is an admitted gang member and eligible for deportation, though his lawyers have denied it, pointing to the fact that he has no criminal record.
Trump gave no indication when he would make a decision about DACA, telling reporters only that he would “show great heart.”
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