When Trump decided to follow through on his racist campaign promise and end DACA in 2017, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families felt betrayed, left in limbo and in fear of deportation.
But after two long years of fighting back both in the streets and in the legal arena, these Dreamers and their families can breathe a sigh of relief for now, because of the June 18 Supreme Court 5-4 ruling against Trump’s decision to end the program.
Immediately after the announcement of the decision, most mainstream media outlets rushed to applaud rightwing chief justice John G. Roberts Jr. for not following the dictates of the Trump administration and instead justly ruling in favor of the Dreamers.
But is this victory simply to be chalked up to some change of heart or adherence to legal principles on the part of Roberts? The reality is that the capitalist state is on the defensive. The decision to halt the rescinding of DACA comes only days after the historic and monumental ruling granting LGBTQ workers protection under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is not to mention the ongoing victories and reforms enacted by the eruption of the movement for Black Lives against racist police terror and systematic racism.
The decision to halt the attacks by Trump on Dreamers was not a show of good faith by the court but is the result of the stepped-up pressure on the government and the state apparatus by the current uprisings and the elevated climate of struggle sweeping the nation.
A huge victory but the fight is not over
At the same time, Dreamers and immigrant rights activists know very well the shortcomings of this decision. A closer look at the majority opinion given by Roberts shows that the court’s decision did not rule Trump’s actions unconstitutional, but instead that he went about it the wrong way, a mere technicality. This is a victory and a blow to the racist and xenophobic Trump adminsitration. But, it still leaves Dreamers vulnerable, only buying them more time because it leaves the door open for Trump to attack DACA, especially if he is re-elected this November.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, protects from deportation undocumented immigrants brought as children. It gave Dreamers, as they became known, a renewable two year deferment so they can study, work, and live without the fear of deportation.
It was signed into law through executive order by then President Barack Obama in 2012, only after the massive pressure and ferocity of the militant immigrant rights movement. This is a movement that at its height saw instances of undocumented students risking their status by staging sit-ins at offices of state officials from both sides of the aisle, giving birth to the slogan “Undocumented and unfraid.”
They, along with their parents, waged a major struggle against the Obama administration. That administration was negligent in failing to pass comprehensive immigrant rights reform when it had control of both houses of Congress. By 2012 Obama had deported millions, more than any other president in U.S. history.
Even at the time of its signing, DACA fell way short of the movement’s demands which called for the legalization of all the estimated 12 to 14 million undocumented immigrants at the time. In addition, of the eligible 1.8 million Dreamers, only about 800,000 signed up. Many were afraid of exposing themselves and their families by giving the government all of their information in case the government later changed their minds, which is exactly what happened when Trump came to office.
The ruling brought a jolt of joy and celebration to the more than 600 thousand DACA recipients, the immigrant community, and their supporters.
In Los Angeles, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights or CHIRLA, organized a car caravan of more than 100 cars circling the McArthur Park area of the overwhelming immigrant population of Los Angeles. Participants, bystanders, and cars passing by honked their horns, applauded, and made noise in support. Chants of “DACA Vive Vive, La Lucha Sigue Sigue” (DACA lives, the struggle continues) were heard loudly throughout the caravan.
La migra, la policia, la misma porqueria
The action culminated with a rally outside of the Metropolitan Downtown LA Detention Center, where many immigrants are detained awaiting deportation. Liberation News spoke with CHIRLA organizer Raquel who explained that the rally and celebration symbolically ended at the detention center to remind folks that there is still much work to be done. Raquel told Liberation, “Although this was a win for us, it is really important to be critical because we also have the Black Lives Matter movement going on. When we talk about defunding the police, we are also talking about abolishing ICE. As we speak, there are kids and their families locked up at detention centers.”
The link between ICE and the police is very evident. Both are institutions born out of white supremacy and institutional racism. She also added, “We are committing ourselves as an immigrant community to stand in solidarity and comradeship with our Black brothers and sisters, queer and trans folk to demand justice and liberation for all human beings regardless of their immigration status.” Examples of this solidarity have been well in display since the ruption of the movement for Black lives after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. There reports of undocumented activists not only joining in protests throughout the country but also risking their status by being arrested, as was the case of a young undocumented activist in Phoenix.
Until another victory is won in the streets, the current more than 600,000 DACA recipients will continue to renew their permits. DACA only became a reality after the masses of immigrant youth fought and demanded it. The attack on DACA was stayed in the context of a nationwide uprising against racism. All progressive and revolutionary people must remember that the power lies in the people, and true change comes from struggle.
Both the Democrats and Republicans are ultimately compliant to the system of capitalism and will fight to enforce the status quo. It is up to the masses of people, with and without papers, to fight for full rights for all.
Without a massive pool of undocumented labor, capitalism could not function as it does in the United States. That’s why when immigrant people fight for their rights and unite with other progressive sectors of the working class, the entire system can come to a halt as it did in 2006, and seemingly impossible reforms can be achieved as seen with yesterday’s rebuke to Trump.