VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged young immigrants who may be affected by the Trump administration's decision to end a program protecting them from deportation to keep dreaming.
Speaking by video hookup with young people in Texas, Puerto Rico and a handful of Latin American nations, Francis urged all countries to welcome immigrants and for newcomers to respect the laws of the places they are living.
President Donald Trump has said he is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program and asked Congress to come up with an alternative.
"The first thing I want to tell you is that I'm praying for you. The second thing is to continue to dream. And find people who love you and want to defend you in this difficult moment," Francis told the young immigrants.
DACA has protected about 800,000 people, many of them college students or young professionals, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with family members who overstayed visas.
Francis has already said, in response to a question about Trump's plan to end the program, that anyone who professes to be "pro-life" should keep families together.
Francis' comments came in a video hookup with students involved in Scholas Occurentes, a program he developed as archbishop of Buenos Aires to encourage dialogue among youths from different countries and cultures. As pope, Francis has elevated the program to a foundation of pontifical right, enabling it to enjoy the full support of the Holy See.