The key bit comes at 2:48 below in yesterday’s interview with ABC.
DAVID MUIR: When people learn of the news of this wall today there are gonna be a lot of people listening to this. And I wanna ask about undocumented immigrants who are here — in this country. Right now they’re protected as so-called dreamers — the children who were brought here, as you know, by their parents. Should they be worried — that they could be deported? And is there anything you can say to assure them right now that they’ll be allowed to stay?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They shouldn’t be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border. We’re gonna have a very solid border. Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried. We’ll be coming out with policy on that over the next period of four weeks.
DAVID MUIR: But Mr. President, will they be allowed to stay?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m gonna tell you over the next four weeks. But I will tell you, we’re looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we’re looking at it with great heart.
Four weeks is way more time than Trump needs to handle this if he’s planning to handle it via executive order. If, on the other hand, he’s hoping to ram through a deal with Schumer that would legalize DREAMers legislatively, which is what Priebus and Spicer have been hinting at, a four-week timeline makes more sense. Or maybe he’ll follow both approaches, issuing an EO that freezes the DACA program which McConnell can then use as pressure on Senate Democrats to get them to come to the table. If you believe Vox (I know, I know), a draft of that executive order already exists and is circulating within the Trump White House. You can read it for yourself here. It does exactly what you’d expect it to do, rescinding Obama’s amnesty for illegal parents of children who are U.S. citizens (DAPA) immediately while making rescission of his amnesty for illegals who were brought here as children (DACA) a much slower, staggered process. The key bit:
In other words, no new work permits will be granted to illegals under the program — but, per section (b)(i), work permits currently held by DREAMers will not be revoked. They’ll simply be allowed to expire according to their current two-year term, which means that every day for two years after the order is finally signed, several hundred DREAMers will lose their right to work legally in the U.S. That’s the pressure mechanism on Schumer: If he wants to make sure that none of those kids end up being deported, the time to compromise on legislation is right now. The point of Trump saying in the interview that he has a big heart and that DREAMers needn’t worry about deportation is to essentially wink at Schumer and show him that the White House is open to a deal on legalizing them. And of course he’s nudging his own border-hawk fans to prepare for the reality of 700,000 DREAMers receiving permanent legalization. Yesterday’s executive orders on building the wall and defunding sanctuary cities were smart politics as a prelude to amnesty for DREAMers, and confirm what many amnesty opponents have said for a long time — if you show the right that you’re serious about strengthening enforcement, they’ll cut you some slack on legalization. Trump’s going to prove that suspicion correct over the next few months.
If you can spare the time it’s worth reading the transcript of the entire interview, as it’s pretty Trump-y even by the usual standards. A favorite quote from him talking about the applause he got at CIA headquarters last weekend: “I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal.” Uh, what?