More than 800,000 undocumented law-abiding youngsters have come out of the shadows since 2012 and applied for deferral from deportation under a federal program. Ironically, that created a database for President-elect Donald Trump’s deportation force toolbox.
The fear and anxiety over massive family separations is real. Trump’s immigration plan calls for immediately terminating the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as well as one that allows parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to delay deportations. He calls these programs President Barack Obama’s “two illegal amnesties.”
The DACA database must not become a weapon against mostly Latino immigrant families. To protect “dreamers” and their families, Obama should immediately issue a presidential pardon to those who have registered for all potential immigration violations.
This act alone would send an unmistakable message to those who want to deport millions of undocumented immigrants that there will be resistance everywhere, and that no one is going to go to detention camps quietly.
For 18 months, Trump built his racist appeal upon the canard that Mexicans are mostly rapists and drug dealers. The Trump administration will soon realize that building a “big beautiful wall” involves years of complex planning and billions of tax dollars.
However, the process of implementing mass deportations and family separations is less complicated. He and his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, can issue scary edicts and letters informing those in the DACA database, estimated to be 78 percent of Mexican origin, that they are violating the law and subject to arrest. The next steps are detention camps and physical removal.
As the author of our nation’s first sanctuary city ordinance, in 1989 in San Francisco, I am heartened that powerful and just leaders throughout America are organizing to fight the real threat of this de facto ethnic cleansing scheme.
Democratic mayors including Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles, Darrell Steinberg in Sacramento and Ed Lee in San Francisco have pledged to defend their sanctuary city policies. Legislative leaders vowed Monday to stand against Trump’s hard line on illegal immigrants. The new Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate – including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who will be the ranking Democrat on the key Judiciary Committee in the new Congress – has also called for protecting “dreamers.”
Trump, on the other hand, sent an unmistakable nativist message by appointing white nationalism peddler Steve Bannon as his chief strategist.
Wall Street analysts took no time interpreting this message. The private prison company formerly known as the Correction Corporation of America saw its stock soar 58 percent the day after election and its CEO told investors, “It is with great pride that we have been able to accommodate these developing needs.”
Apparently, Trump and Bannon’s xenophobic campaign promises will also be a boon for the for-profit prisons.
Jim Gonzalez is a former San Francisco supervisor and founder of the Latino Policy Coalition. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.