John Kelly: Trump plan would help Dreamers ‘too afraid’ or ‘too lazy’ to apply for DACA

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WASHINGTON ― White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s offer to save undocumented young people ― though only if he can build a border wall and slash legal immigration ― is generous because it would help immigrants who may have previously been “too lazy” to seek protections.

Trump has said he would support a path to citizenship for the 690,000 people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as well as for anyone who is eligible for the program but didn’t sign up. The White House estimates that’s 1.8 million people total, leading Kelly to call the president’s proposal “stunning.” 

“The difference between 690 [thousand] and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly said, according to The Washington Post. “So the president, shockingly, said OK, 1.8 million, and then probably the biggest shock was in a path to citizenship. That’s beyond what anyone could have imagined.”

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DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, poses for a portrait next to the ambulance in which he lives on his college campus in Pomona, California U.S. January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA, “When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me. The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life. The majority of people like me are just trying to seek an education and trying to improve their lives.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, sits in a coffee shop in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela’s mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, scales a rock-climbing wall in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: “When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me… The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life… the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, prepares morning coffee in the ambulance in which he lives on his college campus in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: “When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me… The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life… the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (L), 26, chats to a friend after eating lunch in a diner in Garden Grove, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez, 26, poses for a portrait in Garden Grove, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. “That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed. I’m concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state. I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants,” Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, poses for a portrait outside her office in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela’s mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said, “It broke me. It’s traumatising because I’ve lived in this country for 21 years. We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, poses for a portrait outside her apartment in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. “DACA has always been very problematic and temporary. It’s not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we’re going to get fired because we have no social. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico. The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family. I think it’s important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial, does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have,” Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, looks at his cat in his home in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. “My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it’s possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status,” he said.

DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, walks to the station to go to work in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, works at his job in visual effects in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. “My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it’s possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status… It’s not only about us. I’ve heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don’t want that,” he said. SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, leaves for work from his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. “My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it’s possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status… It’s not only about us. I’ve heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don’t want that,” he said. SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient and electrical engineering student Brian Caballero, 25, works on a circuit board for his lab class in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: “When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me… The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life… the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, walks out of the ambulance in which he lives on his college campus in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: “When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me… The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life… the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela (C), 23, sits in a coffee shop with friends Courtney Folsom (L), 24, and Mariah Osborn, 22, in Fullerton, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela’s mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said: “It broke me… It’s traumatising… because I’ve lived in this country for 21 years… We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families… The reason this country labeled us as ‘Dreamers’ is because we want something ? as if that dream is unattainable. No, If we can dream it, we can achieve it… It takes guts to have a dream and it takes guts to fight for it.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, poses for a portrait outside his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. “My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it’s possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status… It’s not only about us. I’ve heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don’t want that,” he said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, puts dishes in the sink at his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. “My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it’s possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status… It’s not only about us. I’ve heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don’t want that,” he said. SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, watches a TV show at her apartment in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. “DACA has always been very problematic and temporary ? it’s not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we’re going to get fired because we have no social [security number]. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico… The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family… I think it’s important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial… does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have,” Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (C), 26, participates in a protest for a clean Dream Act, in Anaheim, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. “That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA… I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed… I’m concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state… I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants,” Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, leaves her office at lunchtime in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela’s mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said: “It broke me… It’s traumatising… because I’ve lived in this country for 21 years… We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families… The reason this country labeled us as ‘Dreamers’ is because we want something ? as if that dream is unattainable. No, If we can dream it, we can achieve it… It takes guts to have a dream and it takes guts to fight for it.” REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, prepares dinner at her apartment in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. “DACA has always been very problematic and temporary ? it’s not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we’re going to get fired because we have no social [security number]. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico… The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family… I think it’s important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial… does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have,” Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, walks to the station to go to work in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. “DACA has always been very problematic and temporary ? it’s not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we’re going to get fired because we have no social [security number]. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico… The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family… I think it’s important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial… does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have,” Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (C), 26, helps plan a protest for a clean Dream Act at her home in Santa Ana, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. “That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA… I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed… I’m concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state… I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants,” Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “USA DREAMERS” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.




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Kelly was at the Capitol talking to lawmakers about the president’s immigration framework, which includes a path to citizenship for some so-called Dreamers, or undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children. Trump also wants more border security, an end to the diversity visa lottery and to phase out types of so-called “chain migration,” which allows Americans and legal permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for green cards.

Trump and administration officials have insisted this is a reasonable compromise, but Democrats don’t see it that way, given the massive cuts to legal immigration pathways. Even some Republicans view the president’s proposal as unworkable. Meanwhile, the White House has shot down bipartisan bills that don’t include the same cuts to legal immigration.

Kelly said he “can’t imagine” anyone voting against Trump’s framework.

“I would offer that if before the champions of DACA were members on one side of the aisle, I would say right now the champion of all people that are DACA is Donald Trump,” he said. “But you would never write that.”

It’s likely that people will lose protections in large numbers in March if Congress does nothing, in addition to the estimated 122 people who have lost protections daily since September.

Dreamers are in this situation because Trump rescinded DACA in September and told Congress it had six months ― until March 5 ― to find a solution. The administration is currently accepting DACA renewal applications under a court order, but it can take months for those reviews to be completed. Trump is also fighting that ruling.

It’s likely that people will lose protections in large numbers in March if Congress does nothing, in addition to the estimated 122 people who have lost protections daily since Trump ended the program.

It’s expensive to apply for DACA ― the application fee is nearly $500 every two years, and that doesn’t count potential lawyer fees. That can make it difficult for some people to apply, especially if they are in school, working under the table or helping to support their families. Others, as Kelly mentioned, did not apply because they’re afraid of the government having their information. 

Some lawmakers have argued that perhaps Trump could just extend DACA. However, officials have said that isn’t possible because the president has called the program unconstitutional, and Kelly said he doesn’t think Trump has that authority. He also said Trump would not ask Congress for some sort of extension.

But Kelly insisted that DACA recipients, should they lose their protections, would not be a priority for detention or deportation.

RELATED: Members past and present of President Trump’s inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump’s inner circle

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Hope Hicks: White House Director of Strategic Communications

Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States

Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration

Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser

Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff

Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration

Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser

Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president

Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration

Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary

Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump

Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration

Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general

Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury

Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman

Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign

Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison

Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration

Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration

Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser

Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager

Eric Trump: Son to President Trump

Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State

Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role

Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth

Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary

Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. President Donald Trump’s encounter this week at the Group of 20 summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin is raising concerns among veteran American diplomats and analysts about a mismatch between a U.S. president new to global affairs and a wily former Soviet spymaster. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images




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That’s not likely to comfort DACA recipients. A man whose DACA had recently expired was detained when he went to traffic court last week, although he was later released. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said repeatedly that their main targets are criminals and others who are high-profile for removal, but that they won’t look the other way if they come across others who are in the country without authorization. There’s no reason to think that wouldn’t include former DACA recipients ― even if the administration insists they’re not a priority.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.



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