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We Won’t Know the SCOTUS Decision on DACA For Months. But Here are Some Things We Know Now for Sure.

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As legal observers and Supreme Court watchers parse today’s proceedings, let’s remember that we won’t know the outcome of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case until next spring. But separate from reading tea leaves, we do know some things for certain right now: 

1. For Dreamers with DACA, “home is here” – and millions of Americans have their backs. The presence, potential and power of the 700,000 DACA recipients has been front and center this week, and for good reason. They are Americans in all but paperwork. They grew up pledging allegiance to the flag. They struggled against the odds with courage and resilience. Now young adults, they are teachers, doctors, nurses, stay-at-home parents, construction workers, soldiers, taxpayers, homeowners, students, and more. They are backed by employers, unions, universities, friends, families and the vast majority of Americans. Whatever the Supreme Court ultimately decides – and put us down as optimistic that the Court will find a way to preserve DACA – the profound fact of the matter is that Dreamers and their families and their allies are not going away. After all, home is here.

2. Don’t buy into the White House chatter about a 2020 DACA-related legislative deal. Been there, tried that, not happening. On the very day Trump revoked DACA in September 2017, the public outrage was so intense that Trump promised to take care of the Dreamers with a good deal. He then did some negotiating on live TV from the White House. But when good faith bipartisan proposals were put on the table, the White House torpedoed every single one. 

  • Chuck and Nancy over Chinese food at the White House in mid-September 2017: Trump said yes in principle to border security for the Dream Act; John Kelly and Stephen Miller made sure Trump backed off the next day.
  • Durbin and Graham present Trump with a four-part proposal to meet his demands on needed elements: Miller stacks the meeting room with hardliners, Trump does a 180, plays to the nativists, and denounces the deal for admitting people from “shithole” countries.
  • On the eve of a brief government shutdown, Schumer has a one-on-one meeting with the President and offers to increase border security substantially in order to secure Trump’s support for the Dream Act: Trump says yes in principle, but Kelly calls Schumer a few hours later to say no.
  • During Senate floor action, agreed to by McConnell to end the previous government shutdown, two bipartisan bills receive votes in February 2018 – the Rounds-Manchin and McCain-Coons proposals: the White House threatens to veto them and drives potential Republican supporters away.

Democrats were willing to meet Republicans halfway, and the Trump White House was not. The lessons are clear. Stephen Miller does not want a fair deal. He wants to take hostages and trade them for nativist proposals that Democrats can never accept. And does anyone doubt that Stephen Miller won’t hesitate to discard the hostages if he isn’t paid the white supremacist ransom he demands?

3. Trump’s drive to end DACA could cost the GOP in 2020. No matter what the Supreme Court rules, it is hard to imagine that the Trump and GOP drive to end the popular and successful DACA program will help them win in 2020. For example, a Fox News poll from June 2019 found that Americans support Dreamers’ citizenship by 3:1 margin, 73-24%, with even a majority of Republicans backing the idea. Today, with Trump’s cruelty already well-established – his administration has separated families, caged kids, slammed the door on refugees, slashed legal immigration, and banned Muslims – a pre-election reminder to suburban and swing voters of his cruelty is likely to cost him and his party.