}

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Explaining the DACA situation


The video above from Vox explains DACA, both its history and what’s at stake. It also explains the origin of the far-right talking points against DACA, and why some Republicans are so virulently anti-DACA. Vox also posted a look at what they call “ticking time bomb for 800,000 immigrants”, which includes a timeline for the end of DACA. Taken together, they help explain it, but they don’t really answer the question of why this is being done.

Is Don doing this because he’s racist? He has clearly demonstrated animus toward Mexicans in particular. Even so, this particular action is not legally racist because it affects ALL children brought to the USA illegally by their parents, regardless of where they're from. To cite just one example, and while I don't watch his videos (not my thing), there's a popular YouTuber (4.9 million subscribers), David Dobrik, who was born in Slovakia, and brought to Chicago as a child. He’s a Dreamer and may end up being deported [WATCH – the link is set to start of the segment]. However, this action undeniably affects kids from Mexico, Central and South America far more than kids from other countries.

None of the children in question are US Citizens, though they all have permits to live, work, and study in the USA under certain conditions, as the video mentions. So, because the affected kids are not citizens, and because DACA was a Justice Department directive and not a law, Don rescinding it isn't breaking any laws, unless, maybe, someone can prove in court that Don's specific motivation was animus toward Hispanic peoples, but I doubt anyone could successfully make that case, and even if they did, the fact that the kids aren't US Citizens may make the courts reluctant to intervene. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I doubt it.

In this single case, I think that Don—despite his pattern of animus against Hispanics—is acting more to pander to his base, especially the white supremacist and racist parts of his base. It was an easy bone to throw to the drooling knuckle-draggers who demanded he deport all people in the USA illegally, including the Dreamer kids, too, and this is something that Don thinks has no consequences for him. Jury’s out on that.

But let me be a cockeyed optimist about this—and not just because the reality of watching all the harm Don's regime is doing to the USA is soul-destroying. Congress COULD act to pass the DREAM Act to make the DACA programme into federal law. Democrats all want this, and so do many Republicans, even some pretty staunch right-wingers on other issues and other immigration issues. The only people staunchly opposed are the farthest Right among the Republicans, the folks who are part of the teabagger caucus in the US House in particular. They're a sizeable group, but with Democrats on board it's entirely possible that there will be a bi-partisan DREAM Act passed into law.

I'm betting that the attempt will happen in December, as part of the bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit. Democrats could make it a condition of their support, since Republicans need their votes to raise the debt ceiling because the hard-right part of the Republican caucus always opposes raising the limit. There’s a simple incentive for more rational conservative Republicans to back legalising DACA: Money.

Ending DACA will cost the US economy hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars: The libertarian CATO institute says $200 billion, and the left-leaning Center for American Progress estimates it will cost the USA $433 billion. Clearly even the lowest estimate would be a huge hit to the economy.

There’s strong bipartisan support for DACA nationally among major companies. For example: “Here are the tech companies speaking out against a DACA repeal”, and that’s not just because of the enormous hit to the US economy. Even the most soul-less among Republicans in Congress should be able to understand that the economic impact would be a very bad thing.

While the economic consequences are serious, it’s the human side that motivates the general public. Mainstream Americans are repulsed by the very idea of deporting people who have generally never known any country other than the USA, and may not even speak the language of their native land. These are productive residents of the USA who pay their taxes, work, and study to make the USA a better place, even as they also work to make their own lives better. It makes no humane sense to deport the Dreamers, who were brought to the USA by their parents and had no say in the matter.

I can’t believe I actually have to lecture rightwing Republicans on Christianity, but it must be done. Central tenets of Christianity include the fact that the “the child will not share the guilt of the parent” (Ezekiel 18:20). And, then, there’s that whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” thing. The founder of the religion they claim to follow said that. It’s more than a little presumptuous for self-declared Christians to ignore their religion’s own teachings.

So, there are perfectly good reasons to enact DACA into law: It makes economic sense to do so, it is the humane and compassionate thing to do, and the religion that the hard-right Republicans claim to follow so passionately pretty much commands it. Will any of that be enough?

Congress hasn’t shown an ability to get much of anything done, so that’s the first problem. If they succeed, the question then becomes, would Don sign it? Because it's unlikely Congress would have the votes to override a veto, this is a vital question. Don has signalled that he wants Congress to act, but, as well all know, he says something one day and the complete opposite the next day (or hour…), while claiming he never, ever said the first thing. So, who knows?!!

I don’t care who gets credit for it, or even how they bring it about, it just needs to happen, and as soon as possible. The Dreamers have paid their dues, they have earned the right to have this settled quickly.

This post is a revised and extended version of a comment I made on the AmeriNZ Facebook Page.

Update – September 8: 15 US states and the District of Columbia have filed suit to stop the current president from ending the DACA programme, alleging that Don's animus against Hispanics has to be taken into account. CNN reported:
The groups laid out five different constitutional arguments against Trump's move, saying it was motivated by discriminatory reasons, that it violated due process by being "fundamentally unfair," and that it violated laws that dictate procedures for federal regulations.

The lawyers note that most DACA recipients are of Mexican origin and devote a whole section to inflammatory statements Trump has made about Mexicans, including his attacks on a federal judge of Mexican descent.
ABC (USA) News said: "Legal experts, however, say the evidence of bias is not strong in the case involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA." As I said, I think that it will be difficult to prove bias was the motivation. That doesn't mean it's impossible, of course, and these are the same people that succeeded in getting Don's Muslim Ban struck down because of its motivation in bias. Good luck to them!

The states suing Don are New Mexico, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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