(CNN)President Donald Trump, beginning a section of his State of the Union speech on immigration, rhetorically played off the ongoing efforts to reach a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying, "Americans are dreamers, too."
Trump: 'Americans are dreamers, too'
While addressing Congress on Tuesday night, Trump said, "I am extending an open hand to work with the members of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed. My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American dream."
"Dreamers" is a name used to refer to the group of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, so-called because of the DREAM Act, a bill first introduced in 2001 by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would have offered them a pathway to citizenship. The DACA program was later based on the concept of the bill after it languished for more than a decade.
The line was picked up on social media by the President's critics, supporters and pundits. Some thought it was a great sentiment while others thought it marginalized immigrants.
Conservative thought leader and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: " 'Americans are dreamers too' " is why President Trump is so remarkable. It shifts focus from a small group to the whole nation."
" 'Americans are Dreamers too.' This line was intentionally divisive," Topher Spiro, senior fellow, economic policy and vice president, health policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank.
Todd Zwillich, host of The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC: " 'Americans are dreamers too' feels like it could quickly become the "All Lives Matter" of the immigration debate."
Trump went on to call for Congress to review the White House's immigration proposal, which presents a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants and calls for tighter border security and the end of the visa lottery as well as family-based or "chain" migration.
Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts pushed back against Trump's plan for DACA recipients saying the administration is "turning American life into a zero-sum game."
"We can take care of sick kids if we sacrifice Dreamers" he said in reference to the negotiations in Congress over CHIP funding and creating a permanent legislative fix for those under DACA.