This week, President Donald Trump announced that he’d cave to conservative pressure to restrict immigration by phasing out the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; here’s a refresher) over the next six months. New York politicians immediately sprang into action.
Mayor Bill de Blasio penned a Daily News op-ed pledging to protect the DREAMers, immigrants who arrived in the US as children. Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue Trump and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman actually did, arguing that Trump’s “personal anti-Mexican bias” made the act illegal discrimination.
Why are they so eager to act? For one, it’s a chance to stand up to President Trump and that plays well with progressive New Yorkers. There’s also New York’s significant Latino population. While the 42,000 dreamers in New York aren’t citizens (DACA gives them only a work permit, not a path to citizenship), millions of immigrant New Yorkers are citizens who can vote.
And their votes have been crucial to de Blasio, Schneiderman, and Cuomo. Schneiderman and de Blasio could not have won their current positions without the support of Latino voters. And while Cuomo’s electoral margins have been wider, he owes a lot of that to strong support from people of color in New York City.
So what’s actually going to happen with DACA? Congress could reverse Trump’s decision and pass the DREAM Act into law. Courts could keep DACA in place for now, though likely on procedural grounds, rather than rule it unconstitutionally discriminatory. Or Trump himself could change his mind. While the people who benefitted from DACA can’t take it easy, it seems likely that this halt will be only temporary.