President Trump said Tuesday he has “great love” for the so-called Dreamers affected by his administration’s decision to end a program giving illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age a reprieve from deportation.
But the president also emphasized in a tweet shortly after he made those comments that he wants lawmakers to put the “hardworking citizens of our country” first when crafting immigration legislation.
"I have a great heart for these folks we're talking about,” Trump told reporters, when asked about Tuesday’s announcement to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Late Tuesday, Trump tweeted again about the program, vowing to "revisit this issue" in six months if Congress can't "legalize DACA."
The administration argues then-President Obama didn’t have the authority to enact the policy in 2012. Trump is asking Congress to take up the issue.
“I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” he said.
Not long after he made those comments, at the beginning of a meeting at the White House with top Republicans on tax policy, the president tweeted that he wants any legislative fix to make citizens the priority.
“I look forward to working w/ D's + R's in Congress to address immigration reform in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country 1st,” the president said.
Earlier Tuesday, the president portayed the approach as the least disruptive option.
“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phaseout,” he said. “Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
But Democrats, like Obama, have accused the president of being “cruel” with his announcement.
"To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong," Obama said in a statement. "It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.”