a DREAM deterred

For the second week in a row last week, Mother Nature delivered a devastating blow to the United States in the form of a hurricane of historic proportions.  But last week also delivered man-made devastation to hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. in the form of President Trump’s order to rescind DACA. Trump DACA cartoon And even with so much of last week’s news being dedicated to coverage of the impending threat of Hurricane Irma, the announcement of the DACA policy change still generated enormous announcements of substantive news coverage.

In fact, there were so many good articles written about DACA in just the last week, that it was impossible for even the biggest news junkie to read all of them.  But to try to make some sense out of all the new information, I thought I’d do a little roundup of articles that cover the range of key issues that arise out of the DACA reversal.  So this won’t come close to covering everything that’s out there, but if you don’t get a chance to read much about DACA on your own, this should be a good representative sampling . . .

1.  To get started, here’s what I’ll call a DACA “primer.”  If you’re not too familiar with DACA, Vox’s 9 Facts That Explain DACA, gives some good basic background on what DACA does and who the program covers.  If you’ve had questions about what exactly DACA is, but weren’t sure who to ask, this might help.

2.  It did not take long for the lawsuits to start. Fifteen states plus Washington D.C. have filed suit to block Trump’s plan to end DACA.  The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Brooklyn.  Among several other constitutional arguments, the suit alleges that Trump’s policy change violates the equal protection clause, since it targets a group that is overwhelmingly of Mexican heritage.  A section of the filing lay out Trump’s history of disparaging statements against Mexicans to help make this case. The suit also argues that the individual states will be harmed by the loss of thousands of tax-paying residents.  Additionally, the suit claims the Trump administration didn’t follow proper procedure for making the policy change.

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California school system, has also filed suit on behalf of the school system against the Trump administration over its DACA decision. Napalitano was Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security when the DACA policy was developed, so one can imagine she has a particular interest in seeing this policy defended.  Additionally, one in four DREAMers lives in California, so the UC school system obviously has a significant investment in this outcome.

There has also been a lawsuit filed by an individual immigrant who is currently benefiting from DACA protections.  Like the first suit above, this suit was filed in the Eastern District of New York.

3.  And, contrary to what AG Sessions said in his announcement of the policy change last week, conservative/libertarian law professor Ilya Somin makes the case for why DACA is legal. Click over to read the whole argument in his words, but it essentially boils down to the fact that with DACA, Obama didn’t make or change any law, he simply outlined priorities for immigration enforcement (since it would be impossible to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants), which the President has the authority to do.  Somin responds to a common critique from other conservatives that with DACA, Obama is refusing to enforce immigration law entirely:

Obama has not in fact refused to enforce the entire relevant law requiring deportation of illegal immigrants. He has simply chosen to do so with respect to people who fit certain specified criteria that the vast majority of illegal immigrants do not meet.

4.  And on a related note, this Washington Post piece addresses 5 common myths that you’ll hear from DACA opponents as they try to make the case against it. We heard several of these from Attorney General Sessions as well.  To take one of them, the idea that rescinding DACA will benefit taxpayers:

According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), first-generation immigrants who enter the United States as children (including all DACA recipients) pay, on average, more in taxes over their lifetimes than they receive in benefits, regardless of their education level. DACA recipients end up contributing more than the average, because they are not eligible for any federal means-tested welfare: cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, health-care tax credits or anything else.

Paul Krugman explains why this is a particularly salient factor for the U.S., as the DREAMers presence would  help address a significant problem we have on the horizon – our large aging population:

[DREAMers] mitigate the economic problems caused by an aging population.

One of those problems is fiscal: as the population ages, there are fewer working-age members contributing taxes to pay for Social Security and Medicare. A cohort of relatively high-wage, highly motivated people mostly in their 20s, likely to pay lots of taxes for decades, is exactly what the doctor ordered to make that issue less severe.

5.  Related to that last point, the New York Times explains that one industry in particular will be affected when the DREAMers are deported: the home health care industry. This, of course, would disproportionately affects older Americans, who often rely on home health care workers in order to retain the freedom of living at home instead of having to move into a nursing care facility.

Surveys of DACA beneficiaries reveal that roughly one-fifth of them work in the health care and educational sector, suggesting a potential loss of tens of thousands of workers from in-demand job categories like home health aide and nursing assistant.

At the same time, projections by the government and advocacy groups show that the economy will need to add hundreds of thousands of workers in these fields over the next five to 10 years simply to keep up with escalating demand, caused primarily by a rapidly aging population . . .

The health care field’s reliance on immigrant labor makes it particularly vulnerable. According to census data Mr. Osterman analyzed, more than one-quarter of home health aides in 2015 were immigrants. The proportion in certain states is far higher, reaching nearly one-half in California and nearly two-thirds in New York.

5.  And if the DREAMers don’t tug at your heartrings, here are yet additional economic factors to consider: DACA deportations could result in a reduction of U.S. GDP by $433 billion over the next 10 years, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.

conservative estimate from the libertarian Cato Institute puts the number at $215 billion in lost GDP over ten years, along with $60 billion in lost revenue to the federal government in that time frame.   And Cato makes this note:

It is important to note that these estimates are conservative, as DACA recipients will likely end up being more productive than their current salaries indicate, as they complete their degrees and gain experience in the workplace. Nor does this analysis factor in the enforcement cost of physically deporting recipients should the program be eliminated, which we believe would be significant.

6.  Numbers like those probably help explain why so many in the business community oppose the decision to reverse DACA.  In the days leading up to the announcement, when word had leaked about what was coming, more than 400 business leaders signed on to a letter asking Trump not to reverse the policy.  They also called on Congress to come up with legislation that would provide a permanent solution.

And Axios collected reactions from some of the country’s top tech execs – such as Tim Cook (Apple) and Sundar Pichai (Google) – after the decision was announced.

Mark Zuckerberg, for example, said it’s . . .

particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.

7.  On the topic of business execs coming out against Trump’s decision, here’s an interesting one: the Koch brothers confirmed to the Daily Beast that they plan to push Congress to pass a bill to protect DACA recipients.  This actually isn’t as odd as it seems, as the Koch brothers have been working to bring Latinos into the Republican fold for a few years now.

In 2011, they founded the LIBRE initiative, a new group that makes up part of their larger “grass-roots” political network.  LIBRE goes into communities that have large Latino populations and tries to make inroads by offering things like driver’s license classes, tax preparations, health clinics, English classes, food giveaways (Turkeys at Thanksgiving), etc.  LIBRE uses each of these interactive opportunities to tout the Koch message of small government, lower taxes, school choice.  The group also uses these interactions to collect names and contact information from the participants for future voters outreach.

Here’s a taste from one of their events for kids:

The Associated Press reported on a 2014 event at which Libre distributed Easter baskets at a San Antonio school — packed inside were candy and a bilingual pamphlet about the national debt.

But the Kochs and LIBRE still favor policies that are generally detrimental to many Latinos, such as repealing the ACA, opposing a minimum wage increase, pushing strict voter ID laws, and financially supporting many Republican politicians who vote against immigration reform.

Still, whatever the Kochs’ motivations for getting behind this DACA push, it will certainly help to have their money – and the man power they’re able to activate – working in the same direction the left is for a change.

8.  And the biggest concern to come out of Trump’s decision is fear about how the government will now use the personal information that DACA recipients had to turn over in order to qualify for the program. In addition to information that could help ICE locate them, such as their name, address and birthday, DACA applicants also had to turn over information about when & where they arrived in the United States.  So can this information now be used against them in a deportation proceeding?

As Betsy Woodruff explains, in some cases, the answer is yes.  Depending on the circumstances, Immigration Services may turn this personal information over to ICE to be used in a deportation proceeding.  A memo just put out by the Department of Homeland Security presumably clarifies the scenarios in which this would happen, but in all the legalese, it basically comes down to this: Immigration Services will hand over the information whenever ICE says they need it in order to deport you.

Though ICE obviously makes plenty of deportation cases without being handed the type of information that would be supplied in these applications, once ICE does has access to an individual’s application, it would become essentially impossible for that DREAMer to mount a defense to any deportation case.

9.  This Buzzfeed piece shows what a DACA application looks like & what personal information is required. Take a look, and you’ll get a sense of why DREAMers (or those who’ve even applied for DACA protections) are now in a terrifying position, after they were told they could trust our government with their personal info.

10.  Most lawyers seem to agree that if the government does try to use this information against a DREAMer in a deportation proceeding, the DREAMer would have a strong  due process case. In criminal cases, the Supreme Court has already ruled that an individual should be able to rely on the government’s promises.   So, the government can’t give a person assurances (ie, that their conduct is legal), and then turn around and prosecute them for relying on those assurances.

However, deportation proceedings are civil, not criminal.  So it’s not entirely clear if that same principle would apply.  If you read though this Twitter thread by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, you can see that though lawyers tend to think the government would not be permitted to use the DREAMers personal information against them, the law is still too unsettled to give true comfort.  Mariotti explains in more detail in his article on the issue here.

And so this may be the cruelest aspect yet of Trump’s decision.  It’s not just that he’s reversing this Obama policy, leading to the possible deportation of the 800,000 and ending the dream for the thousands still in the process of applying.  It’s that the hopes and dreams of these thousands of striving young people might actually be used against them by our government in a cold, callous betrayal of their trust in the American promise.


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