Sen. Kamala Harris is a vocal proponent of a government program that allows foreign children brought to the United States as undocumented immigrants to continue living and working in the country.
But the California Democrat expressed deep reservations at the Code Conference on Wednesday that President Donald Trump — who has said he doesn’t want to deport those children — will follow through on his pledge.
For Harris, some of her doubts begin with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the country’s immigration enforcement efforts. The senator said the agency’s new leader, Secretary John Kelly, already has dodged questions about the program implemented under former President Barack Obama, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Harris said that she specifically pressed Kelly during a Senate hearing as to whether he would preserve the program in its current form, and didn’t get an answer. And when she later asked if the DHS leader might meet a so-called “dreamer,” the senator said that Kelly declined. “And he said, ‘how about if I meet with their representative?’” Harris said. “That was a low moment.”
The DACA program ranks among one of the top concerns for the tech industry, which employs a large number of foreign workers. Groups like FWD.us, backed by many in Silicon Valley including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have lobbied for years to ensure that children brought to the United States aren’t deported.
For his part, Trump has taken an aggressive approach to immigration — from pledging a wall along the U.S. border to Mexico to signing an executive order, now the subject of a federal court battle, that sought to ban immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries from coming to the United States. With DACA, however, the president recently has promised to address the issue “with heart.” During the 2016 campaign, though, he attacked the program.
Among the fiercest defenders of DACA is Laurene Powell Jobs, who also appeared onstage with Harris at the Code Conference. She huddled with Trump to discuss the program earlier this year, a meeting organized by “someone that we both know who wanted to make sure he had a conversation with somebody outside the White House about it,” Powell Jobs said.
She noted that Trump was “engaged in our meeting” — but Powell Jobs also said deportations had risen noticeably since he arrived in the White House. At their discussion, the president communicated that he is the “only one” who could bring about comprehensive immigration reform. “So let’s see it done in a humane and viable and thoughtful way,” Powell Jobs said.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.