Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C.’s Staunch Defense of DACA

Kudos to the Falls Church City Public School Systems’ still new superintendent Peter Noonan for weighing in forcefully and without delay on the controversial move by President Trump to repeal the protections that have been in place to guard children of illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation. Most of these beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have effectively spent their entire lives in the U.S., going to school, learning skills, becoming exemplary citizens and sacrificing for the country. Deportation for them would be exiling them from the only home they’ve known, to a strange place with no social system in place for them.

No one can know exactly how many DACA children are in Falls Church because, as Noonan said in his statement, it is illegal to ask someone their immigration status. But be assured there are more than a few. These are talented, grateful and hard-working young people who are eager to make a positive contribution. If Trump’s intent in stopping illegal immigration is to protect Americans from crime, then he could not have targeted a less-relevant population.

Now it is looking like Trump intends to have Congress use the DACA issue as a bargaining chip in upcoming legislation on the budget, perhaps most significantly on funding for his border wall and with the threat of a government shutdown also looming. But this is only a jaundiced and cynical willingness to use vulnerable young lives to bargain for some horrible programs. Every American, including all Latinos, should never forget how the Trump administration and Republican allies will use this cruel tactic to get their way. Virginia, like Texas, is on the verge of becoming like California, where the growth of the Latino voting population has turned that state “Blue” forever.

California used to have a very sharply split and divided electorate, between labor, progressive and new American voters, on the one side, and the notorious Orange County ultra-conservatives on the other. Sometimes one group would prevail in elections, sometimes the other. In statewide races, it elected Ronald Reagan governor, and other sharply right wing candidates, and then also some Kennedy progressives. Goldwater’s upset primary win there in 1964 sealed his GOP nomination, and in 1968 Bobby Kennedy’s primary win could have propelled him to win the Democratic presidential nomination had be not been assassinated on that fateful night.

But that’s ancient history now, because with the growth of the Latino vote in California, the biggest state in the nation has gone hopelessly Democratic to the point that neither party deems it worthwhile to campaign there except to raise money for races elsewhere.

Virginia is almost there in the same way, and Texas is soon to follow. How can Republicans hope to win any national election if they can’t carry California or Texas? But now they’re ensuring that will happen by their cynical use of vulnerable Latinos as pawns.