As President Donald Trump considers whether to end the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) policy that allows immigrants who were brought into the U.S. in their youth to remain in the country and obtain work permits, his vice president says that the determination is one that Trump will make with "big heart."
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ABC News reported last week that the president was leaning toward terminating the program launched under President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA protects undocumented persons from deportation and provides them with a work permit if they entered the U.S. before turning 16, pay a fee and meet certain eligibility requirements.
"President Trump has said all along that he's giving very careful consideration to that issue and that when he makes it he'll make it with, as he likes to say, big heart," said Vice President Mike Pence in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl Thursday.
Though Trump repeatedly denounced the toll undocumented immigration was taking on the American economy throughout his presidential campaign, shortly after his inauguration he seemed to indicate that his position toward younger immigrants could change.
"They shouldn't be very worried," said Trump to ABC News in January of those who have received grants of deferred action, adding, "I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody."
At the time, Trump said the administration's policy would be revealed in the next "four weeks," but at the White House Thursday -- over six months after the pledge -- press secretary Sarah Sanders said a final decision on DACA still had not been made.
In Texas, where recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are underway, Pence said that the federal and state government would be providing support, regardless of citizenship status, "to give [victims] shelter to assist them as they rebuild their lives and rebuild their families."
Asked for his message to the more than 120,000 Texas residents who are recipients of DACA, according to Department of Homeland Security estimates, Pence said, "We'll deal with these other issues as they come and the president will give careful consideration to them."
The vice president also stood firm on Trump's signature promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, echoing a position Trump delivered at a campaign rally in Phoenix last week -- that he would be willing to let the federal government shut down if appropriations for the wall were not included in a spending bill to fund the government.
"President Trump's made it very clear that we're gonna keep our promise to the American people," said Pence, adding, "The president's made it clear that we're going to stand firm and we're gonna build a wall and secure our border."
You can hear the rest of Jonathan Karl's conversation with Vice President Mike Pence on the Powerhouse Politics podcast.