LGBT Angelinos tend to pick up on subtle visual cues and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama looked a tad too giddy Sept 5 as he rolled out President Donald Trump’s plan to kill the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA impacts roughly 800,000 undocumented young people, or DREAMers, brought to the US as children and California is home to 1 in 4 DACA participants, according to a 2017 analysis by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. Los Angeles County has around 180,000 eligible residents.
Most Californians are angry at Trump’s latest ideological gastric emission to please his base of 39 percent far-right conservatives, many of whom are white nationalists and white supremacists. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra told reporters that Trump’s move is unconstitutional and he is “prepared to go intomorrow, or when it seems appropriate, to court to make sure we stand up for those who have stood up for and helped build this country, and certainly California,” though Politico reports legal politics may make it a difficult lift.
Silicon Valley is willing to help fund the pro-DACA effort. Out Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about his 250 employees: “#Dreamers contribute to our companies and our communities just as much as you and I. Apple will fight for them to be treated as equals.” Cook was among leaders from 300 companies who appealed to Trump to keep DACA.
Microsoft president Brad Smith told NPR, if the government moves to deport the company’s DREAMer employees, “it’s going to have to go through us to get that person.”
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that there are over 75,000 LGBT DREAMers in America—36,000 of whom have participated in DACA. Los Angeles, in particular, is home to thousands of LGBT DREAMers, many leaders in the immigration movement in both the Latino and Asian communities.
“By taking away DACA, like enacting the Muslim Ban, the Trans Military Ban, and more, Trump has made large swaths of the American people vulnerable to continued attacks,” said Sasha W., Organizing Director for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), which delivered 971 postcards from LGBT APIs and allies asking Trump to preserve DACA.
APIs are believed to be the fastest growing racial group of new immigrants: 169,000 APIs are eligible for DACA, NQAPIA reports, noting there are an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants, a disproportionate share being API.
“For the 11 percent of DACA recipients who identify as LGBT, today’s announcement is even more chilling. In an announcement that lasted only minutes, this administration just turned the lives of tens of thousands of our community members upside down, putting their dreams, their futures, and potentially their safety at risk,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the San Fransico-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus also responded quickly. “After his unfounded smear of transgender service members, President Trump has now decided to take aim at children of immigrants,” LGBT Equality Caucus Executive Director Roddy Flynn said in a statement. “Previously, this President pledged he would handle Dreamers with ‘heart. But that promise has proven to be just as meaningless as his pledge to ‘protect’ the LGBT community.”
“It is a new level of cruelty that the [Trump] administration has showed,” California State Sen. Ricardo Lara told the L.A. Times. “It is unconscionable to me that [Trump] continues to discriminate and pick on some of our most vulnerable.” Lara, who is vice chair of the California Legislative Caucus, has a proposal that would provide DREAMers with college grants, fee waivers or reimbursements in exchange for community service.
Eric Bauman, the out Chair of the California Democratic Party, also issued a statement pledging that the issue will be critical in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Hiding behind his racist attorney general to make the announcement and then punting the issue to Congress also makes this the most cowardly decision of this petty man,” he said. “California Democrats will resist this shameful decision with every ounce of energy and resources available to us, and in 2018, we will elect leaders who respect and value undocumented Californians who grew up here, attended our schools, and who pledge allegiance to our flag.”
Trump’s Twitter nemesis Rep. Ted Lieu, an immigrant brought to America at age three, also reacted vehemently, calling Trump’s decision “cowardly.”
“Deporting hundreds of thousands of Asians and Latinos—nearly half of whom were brought to the U.S. before the age of 7—is not only cruel, it will hurt our economy,” Lieu said. “One report estimates an economic loss of $460 billion over the next decade….I call on Speaker Ryan to work with Democrats to extend the DACA program through legislation.”
Ryan, who previously mildly decried Trump’s move, subsequently said he made the “right decision.” Meanwhile, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have joined with Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and others to reintroduce the BRIDGE Act, which would protect undocumented youth from deportation.
As if lighting a tiki torch to inflame passions, recently pardoned racist pardoned former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio is scheduled to speak at a Fresno County Republican Party fundraiser in late September.
Californians are asking: what’s happened to the American Dream?