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White Nationalists Want to End DACA; To Stop Them, We Must Protect Dreamers

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If we want to oppose white nationalists like the one who came to Charlottesville, we should realize that what they want is to DACA, and stop them.

A major member of Donald Trump’s administration — top economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is Jewish —  has finally spoken out against Trump’s chumminess with white nationalist and extremist groups. Cohn, who was standing next to Trump when he made his inflammatory remarks in Charlottesville, said that Trump’s administration “can and must do better” in consistently condemning hate groups, and spoke about how he seriously considered resigning in the wake of Trump’s hate-legitimizing comments. As Cohn said:

Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the K.K.K. I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.

An opportunity “to do better” is presenting itself right now: one clear way to oppose and denounce white nationalists would be to block their efforts to end DACA.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is making headlines this week thanks to rumors that it’s in imminent danger. But for extremists and hate groups, DACA has been a months-long source of consternation because they thought Trump would end the program soon after getting into office, and he hasn’t. In fact, Trump has indicated support for Dreamers on a number of occasions. But his hard-core base wants DACA to go.

“1/21/17 was the time to end” DACA, Ann Coulter tweeted a few weeks ago.

“I knew [Trump] was going to sell us out on some things,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the hate group Center for Immigration Studies, told the Atlantic. “I just didn’t think DACA was going to be what he sells us out on.” (SPLC and the Center for New Communities recently did a deep dive into all the times Krikorian’s group has promoted the work of white nationalists — over 2,000, it turns out.)

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that potential demise of DACA was welcomed by leaders in the alt-right movement. “Good news about DACA,” white nationalist Richard Spencer tweeted in July about an article that wanted to use ending DACA as a bargaining chip.

By ending DACA, Trump would be playing into the hands of extremists, hate groups, and white nationalists. It’s that hateful crowd up against 80% of the American people, business leaders, educators across the country, the religious community. With support like that, clearly those on the other side have the fringe position. Will Trump side with them again? Those like Cohn who would like him to step away from such hate should be trumpeting the need for DACA’s protection. Republicans who know that it’s wrong for their party to be so closely tied with extreme xenophobia should speak out in favor of Dreamers and get behind the Dream Act. And allies wondering what they can do about nativism should recognize that what nativists want is to be able to deport nearly a million young immigrants — or at least use them to bargain for draconian anti-immigrant measures — and do what it takes to stand in their way.