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Obama says he would speak out if Trump targets Dreamers

 (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Obama said he would regard any effort to round up and deport Dreamers as an attack on American "core values" that would cause him to speak out publicly.

The so-called Dreamers, young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, "for all practical purposes are American kids," Obama said at what is expected to be the final news conference of his tenure.

"The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn't do something themselves ... would merit my speaking out," he said.

Obama's administration has protected more than 700,000 such young people from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Under the terms of that policy, Dreamers are allowed temporarily to live and work legally in the U.S.

President-elect Donald Trump has said that he plans to cancel the DACA program after he takes office on Friday, but he has not said what he would do with the Dreamers. His pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, retired Gen. John Kelly, said last week that he did not know what the administration would decide.

Obama said that he did not plan to comment on most political issues, at least for the next year, saying he wanted to "be quiet a little bit" and "not hear myself talk so darn much."

But, he said, he would make an exception for "certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake."

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