President Donald Trump is now tweeting about how some unauthorized immigrants are really good people.
On Thursday morning, the president tweeted that unauthorized immigrants enrolled in the DACA program “have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own.” He also praised them as “good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs.”
Coming on the heels of an evening meeting with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the tweets are our clearest public indication yet that Trump is eager to sign a law that will protect those 800,000 or so immigrants — often referred to as the DREAMers — from deportation, in exchange for border security measures of some kind.
Earlier this month, it was Trump’s own administration that announced plans to end the program that President Barack Obama set up to protect these immigrants (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA).
Since then, Trump has been hinting, albeit vaguely, that he’d be open to a deal helping the DREAMers out. “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!” he tweeted on the day of the DACA announcement.
These new tweets, though, go a step further. Trump is now affirmatively trying to sell his supporters and base on the idea that letting the DREAMers stay in the country legally is good.
It’s the mirror image of the rhetoric he’s used to disparage unauthorized immigrants throughout his campaign. Instead of disparaging immigrants generally as “criminals” and “rapists” and pandering to the bigoted elements of his base, he’s now professing incredulity that anyone would want to deport this particular subset of that population.
And he’s also characterizing DACA recipients in the most sympathetic terms possible — “good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs” who “have been in our country through many years for no fault of their own.”
Trump has stressed that no deal is finalized, and congressional Republicans haven’t agreed to anything yet. And we should keep in mind that his administration is continuing to implement some very tough policies toward unauthorized immigrants in general — this isn’t a complete turnaround by any means.
But the outlines of what Trump wants are now clear: a deal protecting the DREAMers in exchange for something he can call “massive border security,” details undetermined. The main question now is whether conservatives in Congress will go along with it.