Donald Trump made statements to Time magazine in its "person of the year" article that reverberated with great trepidation across red states that elected him the next president of the United States just one month ago.
The president-elect promised to "work something out" for so-called "dreamers," brought here illegally as children by their parents.
"We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said. "They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen."
Trump's advisers scrambled to walk back his comments, with one transition aide demanding anonymity to deny that Trump intended to set any new policy, CBS News reported.
The comments to Time add to the growing uneasiness among conservatives wary that Trump might not fulfill some of his most basic campaign promises.
Will he build the wall? Will he rescind Obama's DACA edict offering amnesty to young illegals? Will he deport illegal aliens, or at least the 2 to 3 million criminal aliens?
Will he halt or at least reduce the number of Muslim migrants coming to the U.S. every year on green cards, a number that has soared to more than 130,000 annually under President Obama, or will he settle for "extreme vetting?"
Extreme vetting, after all, would have stopped few if any of the recent Muslim terror attacks on U.S. soil – the Boston Marathon bombing, the Chattanooga shooting, the University of California Merced knife attack, the San Bernardino shooting, the Orlando nightclub massacre, the St. Cloud mall attack, the Manhattan pipe-bombing, or the Ohio State knife attack. All of these attacks were carried out by young men who migrated to the U.S. when they were boys, too young to establish any vettable history, or were born here to immigrant parents.
There's also the issue of the "dreamers," who were given amnesty by an Obama executive order.
Trump has said he will terminate DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive action signed into law by Obama in 2012 that gives some undocumented immigrants an exemption from deportation and a renewable two-year work permit. The policy states that applicants must have come to the United States before the age of 18, must have been in the States since June 15, 2007, and cannot have been convicted of certain crimes.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told CNN he's worried Trump could change his position on the dreamers, some of whom he said are "really bad people" and lied about their ages while others have committed crimes.
"I don't want to let this go because somebody's heart got a little softer than it was before the election," King said.
Some immigration hawks were also concerned about Trump's reported pick of retired Gen. John Kelly over Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for Homeland Security secretary.
As head of DHS, Kelly will be asked to lead the charge in implementing Trump’s stated goals of building a wall along the southern border and rounding up illegal aliens. He would also be in charge of overseeing any ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees, measures that would be furiously resisted by the federal bureaucracy, resettlement contractors and the establishment media.
By opting for Kelly Trump "gains a nominee with extensive experience on the southern border but with less of a penchant for controversy," the Hill reported.
Conservatives praise Kelly for his military expertise and trust he’ll build the wall, according to the Hill, but they worry he won’t crack down hard enough on "undocumented" workers.
"He’s clearly committed to protecting the physical security of Americans; we still don’t know how committed he’ll be to protecting their economic security," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the Hill that Kelly was a "great pick" for dealing with the border and national-security threats.
“But he will need to backfill his team with several strong immigration policy experts," he added. "And he’ll need to show he can stand up to emotion or financially driven special interests that want to roll back the Trump immigration platform."
The Hill surmised that by choosing Kelly, Trump found a compromise between a candidate beloved by hard-liners — Kobach – and another candidate — Michael McCaul, R-Texas — who is deeply distrusted by Trump supporters for his perceived softness on border issues.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said he would have preferred Kobach but was fine with Kelly.
"While we would have preferred Sheriff Joe Arpaio or Kris Kobach, because Trump needs more illegal immigration fighters on his cabinet that predate his entry on the issue, we think Kelly is a good pick because he is a border hawk and the borders are so dangerous and so far gone that a military solution is required," Gheen told WND.
"The mass murdering cartels that are trafficking drugs and illegals together across our borders are paramilitaries and they are heavily armed thanks to Obama's use of American taxpayer monies to buy them thousands of assault and sniper rifles in the Fast and Furious Gunwalker scandal," he said. "So having a military commander in charge of DHS makes a lot of sense.
"However, we are still hoping Trump will find good positions for Arpaio and Kobach especially since Time Magazine is accusing him of softening his stance on Dream Act and DACA illegal aliens."
In a column Wednesday conservative firebrand Ann Coulter voiced concerns that Trump may buckle to the establishment on the one issue that propelled him to his stunning victory, first over 16 other GOP rivals and then Hillary Clinton.
"Trump has just annihilated 16 far more experienced Republican rivals, the Clinton machine and the entire media/Hollywood/Wall Street complex by raising the one issue no other politician would touch: putting America's interests first on immigration," Coulter wrote.
"What promise do you think they want Trump to break?" she asked.
"Luckily for the country, Trump doesn't seem obsessed with what the elites think of him. But his advisers include just the type of Republicans whose second-tier law schools make them particularly susceptible to the cheap respectability of establishment media approval."
Trump has been a politician for only a little more than one year, Coulter reminded her readers.
"He has no experience with the tricks that will be played to get him to betray voters on his signature issue. The first president Bush knew what was coming -- and he still broke his promise.
"Manifestly, if anyone in Washington seriously wanted to build a wall, deport illegals, return criminal aliens to their own countries, end the anchor-baby scam and prevent jihadists from immigrating here to kill Americans, it would have been done already."
Counter says that nearly every promise Trump made on immigration is 100 percent within the power of the president.
"It is already the president's job, as commander in chief, to protect the borders.
"It is already the Department of Defense's job to build border walls.
"It's already the law that citizenship is not acquired by being born on U.S. soil to an illegal alien. (No Congress has ever passed such a law, nor has the Supreme Court ruled that they are.)
"It is already the secretary of state's duty to rescind visas from countries that refuse to take their criminals back.
"It is already the president's job to prohibit the entry of any class of immigrants he deems "detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
"It is already the president's job to remove immigrants who commit crimes, entered our country through fraud (i.e., every single refugee), are in the country illegally or who become public charges.
None of those things have ever been done before for one reason: The entire Washington establishment is unalterably opposed to enforcing our immigration laws."