Reporters Lobby WH's Sanders on Behalf of DREAMers, Question Whether He Has a ‘Big Heart’

For Friday’s White House press briefing, reporters decided to play the role of lobbyists standing up for illegal immigrants known as DREAMers ahead of President Trump’s decision about whether to end the program. 

Reporters from a variety of outlets took it upon themselves to inquire about whether DREAMers are real Americans and question the President’s compassion for others seeing as how, if he decided to end it, droves of people could be “sen[t]...out of the country.”

CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy wasn’t the first to ask about DACA, but he was the first to take his inquiry to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a political direction: 

Can I ask you a question that might help us understand how — what informs this decision. Does the President feel that young people who came to this country illegally, who came of age here, who have jobs here, went to school here, are those people Americans? Or are they foreign nationals?

Huckabee Sanders responded that she wasn’t “going to get into the back and forth while we're in the process of finalizing the details on this but we're going to be working on that throughout the weekend and make that announcement on Tuesday.”

CBS News correspondent Chip Reid tried again, sounding a tone of concern for those that could face some sort of deportation:  

[T]he President said we love DREAMers today and in April, he said the DREAMers should rest easy. You know the President. Is it conceivable that he could end this program and send all these people out of the country after saying things like that? 

Huckabee Sanders reiterated her previous statements about the White House not having anything to announce, but the media kept pushing like Univision’s Jorge Ramos would if he were around. 

American Urban Radio Networks correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan also couldn’t miss the chance to play the role of liberal operative, firing off this snarky question: “On the issue of DACA, the Vice President said that the President will use a big heart in making this decision. What is the definition of a big heart?” 

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Another reporter further back in the briefing room later wondered if there was a case where the government could use previous data on DREAMers to hunt them down for deportation:

I know you're not ready to make an announcement yet, but these people, these DREAMers came out of the shadows and they provided their personal information to the government for work permits. If the President does end DACA, will that information be used to round up and deport any of these people? That's my first question. 

“Well, I'll answer it the same way I've answered it 18 other times today. Those decisions are being finalized, and once they are, we will announce them on Tuesday,” stated the frustrated White House Press Secretary.

NBC News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson played another card in the political playbook, by introducing some nondescript individual who would be affected: 

And given that it's so important, I just kind of want to personalize a little bit. There's a guy in Texas right now, he’s Jesus Contreas, he’s a paramedic, he's been working since the storm hit to help people in the community in and around Texas. He also happens to be a DREAMer. What's the President's message to Jesus? 

Near the end of the briefing, a second unidentified reporter also linked the DACA situation to Hurricane Harvey:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Sarah, the follow-up to Hallie’s question for a moment. I think I read there were 120,000 DREAMers in the state of Texas. Is that, in any way, weighing on the President's decision about DACA and what the situation there is? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Again, I think that this isn't a decision that the president takes lightly and he's taking time and diligent effort to make sure that he goes through every bit of the process and he'll continue to do that and make that announcement on Tuesday.

 

Here’s the relevant transcript from September 1's White House Press Briefing:

White House Press Briefing
September 1, 2017
3:31 p.m. Eastern

STEVEN PORTNOY: Can I ask you a question that might help us understand how — what informs this decision. Does the President feel that young people who came to this country illegally, who came of age here, who have jobs here, went to school here, are those people Americans? Or are they foreign nationals?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get into the back and forth while we're in the process of finalizing the details on this but we're going to be working on that throughout the weekend and make that announcement on Tuesday.

(....)

3:32 p.m. Eastern

CHIP REID: Sarah, the President said we love DREAMers today and in April, he said the DREAMers should rest easy. You know the President. Is it conceivable that he could end this program and send all these people out of the country after saying things like that? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I knew I'd get another chance to say this. We're finalizing those details. 

REID: That's not a detail. That's whether he ends the program. 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: And we’re finalizing this decision. It is part of the answer is that we're finalizing this decision, and that would certainly be part of the details of the announcement on Tuesday.

(....)

3:40 p.m. Eastern

APRIL RYAN: On DACA — I’m sorry — on the issue of DACA, the Vice President said that the President will use a big heart in making this decision. What is the definition of a big heart? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to get into the back and forth on this until there's a finalized decision, which we're in the process of doing and we'll make that announcement on Tuesday. 

(....)

3:43 p.m. Eastern

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I know you're not ready to make an announcement yet, but these people, these DREAMers came out of the shadows and they provided their personal information to the government for work permits. If the President does end DACA, will that information be used to round up and deport any of these people? That's my first question. 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Well, I'll answer it the same way I've answered it 18 other times today. Those decisions are being finalized, and once they are, we will announce them on Tuesday. 

(....)

3:46 p.m. Eastern

HALLIE JACKSON: And given that it's so important, I just kind of want to personalize a little bit. There's a guy in Texas right now, he’s Jesus Contreas, he’s a paramedic, he's been working since the storm hit to help people in the community in and around Texas. He also happens to be a DREAMer. What's the President's message to Jesus? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it's the same message that he said many times before, this President is a President that loves people, and we are working on the best decision possible and we'll announce it on Tuesday.

(....)

3:47 p.m. Eastern

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Sarah, the follow-up to Hallie’s question for a moment. I think I read there were 120,000 DREAMers in the state of Texas. Is that, in any way, weighing on the President's decision about DACA and what the situation there is? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Again, I think that this isn't a decision that the president takes lightly and he's taking time and diligent effort to make sure that he goes through every bit of the process and he'll continue to do that and make that announcement on Tuesday. [REPORTER MUMBLING] I’m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is what's happening in Texas and even Louisiana weighing on him at all? 

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think the decision itself is weighing on him, certainly. 


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