On Friday, President Trump told Dreamers to ‘rest easy,’ reaffirming his administration’s commitment to target criminals for deportation rather than children brought to the United States illegally as children.
The term “Dreamer” is used to refer to individuals making use of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly abbreviated as DACA. The program was created by the Obama administration as an attempt towards immigration reform. As the name suggests, DACA allows some illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States an avenue by which to stave off the possibility of deportation while receiving temporary, renewable work permits.
A Trump presidency was widely feared by unauthorized immigrants across the country. The commander-in-chief’s rhetoric towards Central American and Mexican laborers was as harsh after he took office as it was when he was on the campaign trail. A frequent source of controversy were then-candidate Trump’s derision of Mexican immigrants as “criminals and rapists.”
Although his tone has softened somewhat since taking office, he is still insisting on boosting border security by building a wall and hiring thousands of Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began staging raids on undocumented immigrants across the country after Trump was inaugurated. While the actions had been planned before the general election came to a close in November, critics and immigration watchdogs still linked the detainments to Washington.
The raids also stoked worries among the broader immigrant community that undocumented but otherwise law-abiding workers were being targeted for deportation. The arrest of Daniel Ramirez-Medina, a DACA participant with no criminal history, was widely publicized. Medina was picked up and detained by ICE agents who were seeking his father, a convicted criminal.
Federal agents said Ramirez-Medina admitted to having gang ties and pointed to a tattoo on his wrist as evidence; Medina and his attorney denied the allegations, saying the tattoo, which reads “La Paz BCS,” is a reference to the man’s birthplace of the city La Paz in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.
Other Dreamers besides Ramirez-Medina have been caught up in Border Patrol and ICE raids and arrests, which seem to have intensified in the early months of 2017.
One man, 23-year old Juan Manuel Montes, is filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Montes was a Dreamer who had a year left on his work permit and was legally authorized to live in the United States through the DACA program. He was detained by a Border Patrol agent on a bicycle, taken to a holding facility, made to sign papers, and then whisked away to Mexicali, Mexico, in the night.
According to the Associated Press, Trump called Montes’ dilemma “a little different from the Dreamer case” but didn’t offer any additional explanation.
While immigration officials and the Department of Homeland Security agents have been able to rationalize the detainment and deportation of certain Dreamers, the Trump administration has nonetheless maintained that beneficiaries of DACA don’t have to worry.