Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday morning on Fox News that he could not promise that so-called DREAMers, or participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will not be deported.
Sessions was responding to a question from host Jenna Lee about an undocumented immigrant who was deported to Mexico despite his enrollment in the program, which was created during the Obama administration.
The program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age to apply for deportation relief and work permits. In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old enrollee in the program, claimed he was sent to Mexico in February despite active DACA status.
“DACA enrollees are not being targeted,” Sessions said on Fox News. “I don’t know why this individual was picked up.” But when pressed, Sessions said, “The policy is that if people are here unlawfully, they’re subject to being deported.”
“We can’t promise dreamers that they’re not going to be deported,” Sessions added.
Sessions said deportation efforts will focus principally on people caught at the border; on recent arrivals; and on “those who’ve gotten in trouble with the law.” But he did not guarantee any protections for DREAMers.
President Donald Trump pledged during the campaign to eliminate DACA, though he’s equivocated on the subject since he entered the White House, leaving the program’s future uncertain.
Additionally, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in late March that the government and enrollees had an obligation to honor the terms of the program. In a conversation with Democratic senators at the time, Kelly reportedly offered assurances that “the program would remain in place.”
But Sessions has declared war on immigrants and is determined to execute his draconian mass-deportation plan.