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How American Public Sentiment, the Rule of Law and Fierce Dreamer-Led Advocacy Delivered Another Huge Victory on DACA

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In the first Lincoln-Douglas debate, Abraham Lincoln said: “public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” Case in point: the battle to save DACA from the relentless attacks on it by Republicans and Trump.

For four years, Donald Trump and Stephen Miller have tried to strip protections from Dreamers and put them on a path to deportation. To date, they have failed. Led by the courage and first-person testimonials of Dreamers themselves, Americans overwhelmingly support DACA and want Dreamers to have a permanent future in the U.S. In poll after poll, approximately 4-in-5 Americans support DACA and Dreamers, including a majority of Republicans (see a polling roundup and overview here).

Friday’s ruling from Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordering the Trump administration to fully reinstate DACA is the next chapter in this remarkable story. Public sentiment and the fierce advocacy of Dreamers created the climate for the impressive work of the movement’s litigators, who have won big battle after big battle in the courts.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Donald Trump tried to end DACA and subject Dreamers to deportation, but young immigrants, the pro-immigrant movement, Democrats and the country stood up and said ‘hell no.’ 

President-elect Biden has pledged to provide DACA recipients with ongoing protection through executive action, and to fight for pathways to citizenship in Congress. Nonetheless, Republican elected officials and allies seem determined to upend Dreamers’ lives and subvert the will of the country. The next threat on the horizon: Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas, who was cherry-picked by state Republican AGs to rule on the constitutionality of DACA. The next hearing is scheduled for December 22.

But even Judge Hanen has to contend with the strong public support for Dreamers, the undeniable contributions of those with DACA, and the huge public reaction should he rule against immigrant youth who have been protected by DACA for years. The past four years should give all of us optimism that the alignment of public support, courageous protagonists, the rule of law and strong equities will deliver a final result that is morally just and substantively positive for America.