Posted on September 6, 2017

Trump’s Repeal of DACA May Become GOP’s Worst Nightmare

Steven Rosenfield, Salon, September 6, 2017


The long-term consequences of Trump’s DACA move have yet to appear. But there is a strong precedent that more than suggests Trump has crossed a line and the GOP is poised to lose Latino voters, the nation’s fastest-growing population, and that will help push the party from power. That precedent is California’s Proposition 187, a 1994 law that never took effect, but which barred visa-less immigrants from receiving state welfare benefits. The GOP-backed law energized non-whites to push the GOP into political exile in the nation’s most populous state.

“What happened to California in the mid-1990s is happening across the country now,” said Matt A. Barreto, professor of Chicano Studies and Political Science at UCLA and co-founder of Latino Decisions, a national polling firm. “In 1994, Proposition 187 and [Gov.] Pete Wilson marked a historic turning point in California politics. It effectively brought the end of Republican competitiveness by energizing and mobilizing 1 million new Latino voters against the GOP. It wasn’t just Latinos, but record numbers of Asian American voters entered the political system in the late 1990s and early 2000s and registered and voted as Democrats. So we see a lot of parallels there.”

“It will likely energize Latino opposition to anything or anyone associated with President Trump in the 2018 elections.​ In this sense it is similar to the California experience,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, the country’s largest and oldest non-partisan Latino voter organization. “Along with the pardon of racist former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week, repealing DACA inflicts tangible harm to the Latino community.”

Both Barreto and Gonzalez said Trump’s DACA action has crossed a new line.


“Trump is no longer making offensive statements, he is now messing with people’s lives and this will lead to further anger and mobilization among Latino voters in 2018 and 2020,” Barreto said.


“As for people who want to deport me, my family and friends, I tell you this: the US / El Norte has and will always belong to people of color, immigrants, natives and anyone that wants to come, or is already here,” said New Jersey’s Li Adorno, before being arrested Tuesday in midtown Manhattan in front of Trump Tower. “We will fight until we win permanent protection, dignity and respect for all immigrants in this country.”


The Latino electorate has become more engaged in recent years and that has resulted in defeating Republicans and diluting their strength in once-red states, Barreto said.


“You see it in Arizona moving from solidly Republican to a battleground state as Latinos there have mobilized against SB 1070 and Joe Arpaio. You are starting to see it in Texas.”

Political scientists who documented how Prop. 187 drove the GOP into exile in California, a state where they shared power with Democrats a generation ago but now face a blue super-majority, pointed to a rising Latino electorate long before Trump.

“What happened here 20 years ago in many ways is a prologue for what’s happening nationwide, so it’s a really interesting path,” Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor told The California Report in 2014, when discussing the law’s impact. {snip}

The open question is whether Trump’s attack on DACA will drive the nation’s 10 million unregistered but eligible Latino voters to the polls in 2018 and 2020. Gonzalez, who leads the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said it will be these new voters — not Latino Republicans who voted for Trump out of party loyalty — that are likely to reject Republican candidates associated with the president or his agenda.

“Latinos are already heavily Democrat (by two or three to one depending on the state),” he said. “Moreover, the vast majority of Latino Republicans, though opposed to Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino policies, voted for him anyway in 2016 out of partisan loyalty. The shift in Latino partisanship will not be through Latino Republicans switching but through new and occasional Latino voters disproportionately voting for Democrats in 2018 and 2020.”