Dreamers Are Approaching Donald Trump's Change of 'Heart' With Caution

February 17th 2017

Dave Fonseca

The fates of more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants, who earned deportation protections under the Obama administration, now rest in the hands of President Donald Trump. On Thursday afternoon, he said he would address their futures "with heart."


Trump’s comments came when he was pressed about his plans for a 2012 Obama administration directive called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides deportation protections for undocumented young people who arrived in the United States after June 16, 1981, and have lived here since 2007.

“We’re gonna show great heart, DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you," Trump told reporters. "To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids."

The comments hint at a change in heart on DACA from the president, who as a candidate promised to overturn the directive, among other Obama immigration orders.

But “Dreamers,” those who have benefited from DACA, aren’t necessarily taking any solace in Trump’s words.

“I'm definitely takings his words lightly, and I almost do not believe he will treat this issue with 'heart,'” said Luis Antezana, a 24-year-old Dreamer, who teaches a high school English class in Colorado Springs.

Luis Antezana

Antezana said his cause for skepticism is influenced not only by Trump’s divisive campaign rhetoric, but the very comments he made about Dreamers even as he pledged to sensitively address DACA.

During his press conference on Thursday afternoon, Trump called some Dreamers “gang members” and “drug dealers too,” which Antezana saw as an effort to divide the undocumented community.

“He’s trying to buy time and figure out a strategy to leverage the educated Dreamers while at the same time appease those who want all 'illegals' out of here,” said Antezana, whose family brought him to the United States from Bolivia 17 years ago.

Antezana, who said he’s been following Trump’s words closely, cited the language of DACA to push back on the president’s claims about gang members and drug dealers, noting that those with felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions are ineligible for the program.

Trump's statements about criminality in the midst of DACA recipients comes as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers have detained at least two Dreamers under questionable circumstances in recent enforcement raids across the country — a development that stokes even greater concern among immigrants' rights advocates.

According to CNN, an ICE spokesman claims that 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, who was detained in Washington, is a confessed gang member — an allegation his counsel denies. In the case of 19-year-old Josué Romero, who was detained after being arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, Fusion reports that ICE officers claim the teen is being held due to a removal order issued in 2004, eight years before he received DACA protections.


“Donald Trump’s executive orders have targeted all immigrants and have unleashed ICE agents to detain and deport us as they please," Greisa Martinez Rosas, Advocacy Director of United We Dream, told ATTN: in a statement. "If Secretary [of Homeland Security] John Kelly and President Trump wish to love immigrant youth, they can rescind those orders and leave DACA alone."

"These are human beings with no criminal records," Antezana added. "Seeing the actions, seeing his polices come to life, it does not convince me one bit he’s going to help us out."