But Nielsen’s pronouncements have conflicted with other signals from the administration. In his first week, Trump signed an executive order that significantly broadened Obama-era enforcement priorities and stipulated that no groups of immigrants have a blanket exemption from deportation.
Immigration experts said that without specific policy safeguards, the dreamers are bound to become caught up in removal proceedings.
“There’s a real disconnect between the political statements and what the written policies state,” said John Sandweg, who served as acting general counsel at DHS during the Obama administration. “A few times, they’ve talked about prioritizing criminals. But the policy memos sent out to the field have been very clear that there is no distinction among anybody in the country unlawfully.”