Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the National Rifle Association's NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during the NRA Convention at the Kentucky Exposition Center on May 20, 2016 in Louisville, Ky.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Trump administration can’t keep its story straight on ‘Dreamers’

While individual deportations are rarely the basis for national news, last week’s story about Juan Manuel Montes was different. The 23-year-old Montes, who’s lived in the United States since age 9, was taken into custody last week and returned to Mexico – making him the first example of a “Dreamer” to be deported since Donald Trump became president.

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As USA Today reported, Montes was “twice granted deportation protections” under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump has so far left in place, but which didn’t seem to protect the young man last week.

It therefore came as something of a surprise late last week when the Republican president said “Dreamers” – who get their name from the “Dream Act” that GOP lawmakers blocked in Congress – should “rest easy” about his immigration policies. Trump told the Associated Press that he’s “not after the Dreamers, we are after the criminals.” He added, “That is our policy.”

Trump might want to let his attorney general know.
[Attorney General Jeff Sessions], in an exclusive interview Sunday on “This Week,” told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, “There’s no doubt the president has sympathy for young people who were brought here at early ages.”

He also said the Department of Homeland Security’s “first and strongest priority – no doubt about it” is to arrest unauthorized immigrants who have committed crimes. “They’re focusing primarily on that,” he said.
“Primarily” seemed to be doing a lot of work in that sentence.

Asked specifically about the fate of “Dreamers,” the far-right attorney general, “Well, we’ll see. I believe that everyone who enters the country illegally is subject to being deported.”

Oh. Literally two days after the president said these young people can “rest easy,” Jeff Sessions, the man Trump and Senate Republicans made the nation’s chief law-enforcement official, told these same young people not to rest easy – because as far as the attorney general is concerned, they’re “subject to being deported.”

This is, of course, part of the problem with having a president who doesn’t appear to have any meaningful understanding of current events: no one knows whether to take his words seriously, literally, or symbolically. In this case, who’s right about current U.S. policy, Trump or Sessions? The fact that no one has any idea isn’t a good sign.

Postscript: Just to add an additional layer of confusion, four days after the Department of Homeland Security deported Juan Manuel Montes, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told CNN yesterday, “My organization has not targeted these so-called Dreamers, DACA, and we have many, many more important criminals to go after and get rid of, and not the DACAs.”

DHS, Donald Trump, Dream Act and Jeff Sessions

Trump administration can't keep its story straight on 'Dreamers'