WASHINGTON — Missing from President Donald Trump’s blitz of immigration orders this week was any mention of the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants protected from deportation by former President Barack Obama.
That omission has left immigration advocates hopeful Trump has softened his opposition to what he once dubbed “illegal amnesty,” while others say he has quickly abandoned a core campaign pledge.
Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have said they are working on a plan that will address the status of the roughly 750,000 immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as “DACA.” The program allows young people who were brought into the country illegally as children to stay and obtain work permits.
Neither the president nor GOP leaders have disclosed details on their discussions, although both have suggested those currently protected under the program won’t face immediate deportation. Whether they will be allowed to continue to work remains unclear. Trump said this week he intends to reveal a proposal within a month.
“They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump told ABC News this week. “I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. … Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried.”
Trump’s delay and the tone of his remarks were a striking shift from his campaign rhetoric, in which he vowed to quickly end the program and labeled it amnesty.
“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants,” Trump said in a major August speech on immigration.
But his new approach appears to be a concession to Republican leaders in Congress who have called for a less aggressive approach on an issue that has pushed some Latino voters away from the party.
Trump’s remarks this week aligned closely with comments from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has repeatedly argued for a more compassionate approach to dealing with so-called Dreamers. Ryan has discussed the issue privately with the president and recently said congressional Republicans had been working with his team on a solution.
DACA was arguably the most significant and high-profile change President Obama made to immigration policy, one he said he made only after…