President Trump softens stance, suggests he may not deport so-called Dreamers

Posted at 8:04 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 22:04:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY – During President Trump’s campaign, he promised to do away with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. But at a news conference on Thursday, he hinted that he may have a change of heart when it comes to Dreamers.

Dreamers are those who are shielded from deportation after being brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

“DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me," President Trump said. "To me it's one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids, in many cases - not in all cases. In some of the cases they're having DACA and they're gang members and drug dealers too."

Trump continued: “But you have some absolutely incredible kids, I would say mostly, they were brought here in such a way -- it's a very, very tough subject. We are going to deal with DACA with heart.”

The Obama Administration allowed 750,000 Dreamers, like Patricio Panuncio, to stay in the U.S. and obtain work permits.

“I was born in Buenos Aires Argentina," Panuncio said. "I came here when I was 6 years old. My parents brought me here in pursuit of the American Dream.”

Now at age 23, Patricio is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in Political Science. He hopes to attend law school, but it’s hard to plan ahead when there’s so much uncertainty.

“We don't know if Trump is going to wake up in the morning and sign an executive order, and we're not going to be allowed to work or to go to class anymore, if our parents are going to be deported,” Panuncio said.

Antonella Packard is a member of LULAC, The League of United Latin American Citizens.

She is in Washington D.C. encouraging Utah’s congressional delegation to pass the Bridge Act, a bipartisan bill that would halt massive deportation plans.

She hopes the president will extend DACA so people like Patricio can come out of the shadows.

“I believe that it might be he is finally realizing dreamers and DACA recipients are an asset to this country, and we should do something to make this whole situation right," Packard said.

President Trump says he will issue a new executive order on immigration by next week.