Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to put an Obama-era executive amnesty for children of illegal immigrants back on the negotiating block Sunday, emphasizing, “everyone who enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported,” during an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”
Sessions’ comments came just two days after President Donald Trump insisted DREAMers, given legal status by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order, should “rest easy” during an interview with the Associated Press. (The DREAM Act stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.)
“I believe that everyone who enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported. However, we don’t have the ability to round up everybody, and there’s no plans to do that.”
Trump also said his administration is “not after the DREAMers, we are after the criminals,” adding, “that is our policy.”
When “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Sessions whether that policy was also the policy of the Department of Justice, the attorney general suggested the president’s comments did not settle the issue.
The Department of Homeland Security “has primary jurisdiction there,” Sessions noted.
“Their first and strongest priority, no doubt about it, is the criminal element that we have in our country that have come here illegally. So they are focusing primarily on that,” Sessions said, adding, “And there’s no doubt the president has sympathy for young people who were brought here at early ages.”
Stephanopoulos pressed further, asking, “So [the DREAMers] can rest easy?”
“Well, we’ll see,” Sessions responded. “I believe that everyone who enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported. However, we don’t have the ability to round up everybody, and there’s no plans to do that. But we’re going to focus first, as the president has directed us, on the criminal element. And we’ve got to get that under control.”
The fresh round of attention on DACA came less than a week after 23-year-old DREAMer Juan Manuel Montes filed a lawsuit alleging that he was inappropriately deported from the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, however, claims that Montes violated the DACA terms by leaving the U.S. without permission prior to his eventual deportation.