Six months ago, President Donald Trump announced his intention to end DACA and its protections for "Dreamers." On Friday, March 23, Trump tweeted in support of DACA in a move that's left everyone confused. On Twitter, users were roasting the president for his comments, which failed to acknowledge his own decision last year.
DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era program that allows immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to work and live in the country for renewable two-year periods. Trump initially announced his intention to end the program in September 2017. Facing backlash, he allowed Congress a six-month window in which to reach a deal to protect Dreamers. The deadline, which was slated for March 5, 2018, has already come and gone without any such deal. With no clear sign of what's to become of the program, some 800,000 immigrants are waiting in limbo.
In an about-face that baffled even the most unshakeable of political pundits, Trump, earlier Friday, threatened to veto the bill on the very grounds that it failed to address the plight of immigrants, blaming Democrats for the omission.
"DACA was abandoned by the Democrats. Very unfair to them! Would have been tied to desperately needed Wall," Trump tweeted Friday morning. "I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill)." He also complained that the border wall with Mexico didn't receive full funding in the bill. (He'd requested $25 billion for it.)
Trump's Friday comments about DACA aren't the first time he's tried to blame the failure to reach a deal onto Democratic leaders. Still, he took things a step further when, at a press conference Friday, Trump also said that "Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats," referencing immigrants.
In response, numerous users on Twitter pointed out that it was Trump himself who decided to pull the plug on DACA.
Setting aside the fact that it was he who called for ending the program, Trump's subsequent positions would be difficult to reconcile with his present statements. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California points out this very thing: Trump has flip-flopped on deals numerous times, as CNN shows in its timeline.
The bill passed Friday was the result of months of failed negotiations by Congress to pass the 2018 budget, which has already caused the government to undergo short-term shutdowns twice. A veto by Trump would've led to a third shutdown as of Friday.
Lawyer and organizer Alida Garcia pointed out that while Trump's comments appear to support DACA, his administration is currently working to fight legal challenges to his ending the program.
Last month, the Supreme Court shot down the Trump administration's request to hear an appeal of a DACA case being fought in lower courts before a decision had even been reached. The administration had sought an agreement from SCOTUS to weigh in on whether it had the power to determine the program's fate.
The injunctions to which Garcia is referring both came earlier this year, delivering blows to the Trump decision to end the program. The Justice Department motioned it would seek an appeal after a Jan. 9 decision ruled that the administration hadn't followed appropriate legal standards in ending the program. A second decision was delivered on Feb. 13.
After the January decision, federal court ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue processing DACA renewal applications, but did not mandate that the department would have to accept new ones.
What happens to the program and the immigrants it protects remains to be seen. But one thing is clear after the developments on Capitol Hill this week: Dreamers are going to have to continue to hold their breath for a decision.