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

Trump's actions will drive millions of Latino voters to the Democrats for decades.

Latinos have been mobilizing against Donald Trump since he launched his presidential campaign by smearing Mexicans with racist attacks. But his about-face on DACA, the program allowing 790,000 visa-less youths to attend school and work here, “cuts to the bone” and may push Latinos to reject the Republican Party for years to come.

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.

“While Trump has espoused positions reviled by the vast majority of U.S. Latinos (deporting millions of immigrants, building a border wall funded by Mexico, outlawing sanctuary cities, canceling NAFTA, taxing remittances, repealing Obamacare) none have been fully carried out due to Congressional, legal and/or public opposition,” Gonzalez said in an email. “Repealing DACA cuts to the bone.” ​

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