Who's Behind the Plot Against DACA

Anti-immigrant organizations like FAIR, CIS, NumbersUSA, and IRLI, all of which have ties to white nationalists, have long taken a hardline stance that the federal government should dramatically restrict immigration and make life as difficult as possible for undocumented immigrants already living here. Their harsh viewpoints make no exception for young undocumented individuals who have been living in the U.S. since childhood. Many of these individuals have been granted temporary status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and most know only the U.S. as home.

For years, anti-immigrant groups have advocated to strip DACA recipients of their work permits and make them more vulnerable to deportation. They are also at the center of the latest assaults on young immigrants.

Background on the Latest Assaults on DACA

On September 5, 2017, President Trump tasked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long time ally to the anti-immigrant movement in the United States, with announcing the administration’s decision to rescind DACA. Right now 800,000 young people’s lives are at risk as the result of a strategy to leverage their well being with harsh restrictionist policies that would result in a moral and economic disaster.

In February of this year, the Los Angeles Times predicted the scenario that has taken place – that Republican State Attorneys General would threaten to sue President Trump if he did not end DACA. The strategy was expressly designed to help President Trump save face while tacitly sanctioning such an extreme anti-immigrant measure. The LA Times piece attributes this strategy to senior administration officials, while Kris Kobach, current Kansas Secretary of State and the leading architect of much of the country’s most notorious anti-immigrant legislation, is on record supporting this approach. In March, Buzzfeed reported that Steve Bannon had actually advocated for keeping DACA in place for a short period of time, as he considered its use as leverage for later immigration fights, such as using the program to extract demands for funding to support a ramp-up in deportations or potentially for cuts to legal immigration.

In June, after months of making comments about not wanting to hurt DACA recipients, President Trump rescinded the 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) memo (which had never been implemented), while keeping the 2012 DACA memo in place.

Less than two weeks later, the backdoor assaults on DACA that had been telegraphed in the February LA Times piece began:

  • The Supreme Court asked for comment from the Solicitor General (who works under Attorney General Sessions) on an Arizona Driver’s license case (ADAC vs. Brewer).
  • 10 Republican Attorneys General led by Texas’ Paxton, who is under criminal indictment for securities fraud threatened to amend their pending DAPA lawsuit to sue over DACA, unless the President ended the DACA program by September 5th.

Hardline anti-immigrant crusaders  moved ahead with their plans to pursue restrictionist policies and have similarly been driving the anti-Dreamer campaign:

  • Stephen Miller worked with the Center for Immigration Studies on the RAISE Act to dramatically cut family based legal immigration avenues and CIS’s Mark Krikorian has already staked out his group’s position in any negotiation over immigration legislation: threatening the deportation of 800,000 Dreamers unless there is a massive ramp-up in enforcement, mandatory e-verify, workplace raids, wall funding, a capping of guest worker programs, and huge cuts to legal immigration.
  • Update: On October 8th the White House released a set of harsh immigration policies that it demanded in exchange for protections for DACA recipients. These White House immigration principles, sent in a letter to congressional leadership, include the border wall and devastating attrition through enforcement measures.

This is an assault by the anti-immigrant lobby inside and out of the White House that has put nearly 800,000 DACA recipients under imminent threat.

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