President Donald Trump tweeted early Thursday morning that the 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants currently being protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have “nothing to worry about” — dramatically misrepresenting his own policy.
Immigrants whose DACA protections and work permits (which must be renewed every two years) are set to expire before March 5, 2018, are required to apply for their renewals by October 5, 2017 — or else their DACA protections simply won’t be renewed.
That deadline was set by a memo from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday — part of the administration’s efforts, formally announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to wind down DACA over the next six months.
The October 5 window is extremely tight. It’s a month or two before people have been submitting renewal applications, and before this week, the government was actually warning people not to apply for DACA renewal too early. So lawyers and community groups have their work cut out for them in getting tens of thousands of DACA recipients to apply for renewal in a rush.
But the president, who professes to “love” and have a “big heart” for DACA recipients, isn’t helping — he’s actively helping mislead them about their futures.
But perhaps more confusing than the tweet itself are its reported origins. Trump’s tweet reportedly stemmed from a conversation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to reassure DACA recipients they wouldn’t be marked as priority for deportation during this six-month period — which Trump brazenly translated as “nothing to worry about.”
Trump also tweeted earlier in the week that he would “revisit” DACA in six months — apparently oblivious to the fact that as of Wednesday, his administration is no longer accepting new applications for DACA protections.
The president has expressed hope that Congress would find a way to protect them permanently before DACA protections start expiring en masse on March 6 of next year. But in the meantime, twice in the past three days, he has tweeted to say there is no change to DACA and that DREAMers are completely safe.
These statements put DREAMers in danger of losing their protections (or applying under false premises) because of misunderstandings. And it lulls Congress into feeling a false sense of security; if there are no changes to DACA between September 5 and March 5, there’s no problem waiting to pass a bill to protect DACA recipients until March 4.
Because this is the truth: The administration has claimed March 5 as the “official” end to DACA, but it’s actually starting to wind the program down right now.