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Essential Politics: Dreamers win in a California court

Essential Politics: Dreamers win in a California court
Essential Politics (LAT)

The federal program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is back in place this morning after a San Francisco judge struck a blow to one of President Trump's most controversial decisions.

And all of this came just hours after Trump, with the cameras rolling, wavered on whether to play hardball with Democrats on the issue of DACA.

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TRUMP TEAM USED 'FLAWED LEGAL PREMISE'

Tuesday night's ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco means Dreamers, the approximately 800,000 young people who were brought to the country illegally as children, can stay. For now, at least.

"DACA was and remains a lawful exercise of authority" by the administration of former President Barack Obama, wrote Alsup.

Reaction from California leaders was swift.

"This is the type of fight we need to bring to Trump, to make him understand Dreamers are real Americans," said state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León.

A 'CLEAN' DACA BILL? SURE. UM, WAIT A MINUTE…

The question seemed simple enough: Will President Trump sign off on a bill that only solves the immigration status of Dreamers and does nothing else?

But on Tuesday, during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered at the White House, the president seemed to send mixed signals.

At the center of it all, two Californians: Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"What about a clean DACA bill now with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?" Feinstein asked Trump.

"I have no problem," he replied. "We're going to do DACA and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive."

"Would you be agreeable with that?" Feinstein asked.

When Trump said he would, McCarthy jumped in: "Mr. President, you need to be clear, though," he said, adding, "You have to have security" measures as well in the DACA bill.

Remember, no state has more DACA recipients — the Dreamers — than California. The stakes here are huge.

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BROWN'S BUDGET: ANOTHER BIG WINDFALL?

Seven years ago this week, no topic loomed larger on the to-do list of California's newly elected governor than solving the state government's fiscal crisis.

In a few hours, Gov. Jerry Brown will unveil his final budget proposal — the 16th of his career, if you count those two terms that began in 1975. And over the past few years, the outlook has become dramatically different.

The most recent estimates are that California will find itself with another multibillion-dollar windfall of tax revenues — cash that Brown will no doubt say is a temporary thing, a tactic that's worked well for him in negotiating spending plans with Democrats in Sacramento.

One thing we know the governor will do with some of those billions: finish the funding for his signature law that directs more education money to students from low-income and English learner families.

We'll have all the details on our Essential Politics news feed of what's in the budget and what's not. Check in throughout the day.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Parents across the country who rely on the government Children's Health Insurance Program have grown increasingly anxious as Congress repeatedly delays funding for the program.

-- Steve Bannon's fall from power was sealed Tuesday when the former White House advisor quit his post leading Breitbart News after the president and party leaders shunned him for criticizing the Trump family in a new book.

-- In a move likely to stoke partisan tensions over the Russia investigation, Feinstein released the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of a co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced a notorious dossier of allegations against Trump.

-- Running for reelection against Oprah Winfrey would be "lots of fun" Trump said on Tuesday, though he doesn't think she will enter the 2020 race. Of course, there's also the question of whether the TV star should even entertain the idea.

-- Critics heaped scorn on first daughter Ivanka Trump after she praised Oprah's Golden Globes speech condemning sexual harassment.

-- Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who last year was pardoned by the president in a case stemming from his immigration enforcement tactics, says he will run for the open U.S. Senate seat in his home state.

-- Democratic officials in California and New York accused the Trump administration of unfair partisan treatment after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke exempted Florida from expanded offshore drilling under pressure from the state's Republican governor.

-- Trump, who won election as a populist and railed against free trade agreements, will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the White House announced on Tuesday.

-- Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Israel, Egypt and Jordan later this month, rescheduling a trip postponed after President Trump's controversial decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

THE RACE TO REPLACE REP. ED ROYCE

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Rep. Ed Royce dropped a bombshell Monday, announcing he would retire at the end of 2018. The move swings the door wide open in a race that was already shaping up to be a major battleground for this year's midterms.

Prominent Republicans quickly jumped in — including former Assemblywoman Young Kim (who was endorsed by Royce) and former state Senate GOP leader Bob Huff. Democratic candidates were practically salivating, but the reality on the ground could still make it difficult for them to notch a win in this historically right-leaning district that is partly situated in Orange County.

A CONVERSATION WITH JOE BIDEN

Former Vice President Joe Biden, out with a new book, will sit down with Patt Morrison in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night as part of The Times' Ideas Exchange series. The event starts at 7:30 p.m.

Join us in person, or follow our coverage in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

-- Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is joining an effort by the former state Assembly GOP leader to offer new ideas about Republicans to California voters.

-- Californians want to protect net neutrality. As leader of the state Senate, De León pledged to protect consumers this week, but he's not the only one wanting to lead on the issue.

-- De León's proposal to create a state-run nonprofit to help Californians avoid the effects of the federal tax overhaul would create "the most generous tax credits" in state history, a legislative analysis says.

-- The efforts to give whistleblower protections to legislative staffers in Sacramento appears to be gaining momentum, with one long-stalled measure getting an unusual resuscitation and a second proposal being introduced.

-- California lawmakers will request $10 million in state funds to help Salvadorans facing deportation in wake of Trump action.

-- California lawmakers could make it easier to clear marijuana convictions from criminal records.

-- The governor has called a June 5 election for Southern California voters to decide whether to recall state Sen. Josh Newman.

-- Joe Sanberg, a Westwood resident and tech entrepreneur, announced on Monday he will form a new political action committee to support progressive congressional candidates who prioritize the needs of working-class and poor Californians over wealthy corporations.

-- State Sen. Toni Atkins' first day as leader of the state Senate is now official: March 21.

-- A jury has awarded more than $4 million in punitive damages to a former leader of the Black Panthers who was injured after an Oakland city councilwoman punched and pushed her during an argument over housing.

-- A coalition of San Diego tourism, business, homeless advocates, and organized labor interests is launching a citizens' initiative to significantly increase the hotel room tax to fund an expanded convention center, homeless solutions and road repairs.

-- California could soon have an official state horse: the California Vaquero.

Monday's newsletter mistakenly called Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox a billionaire. He's a multimillionaire.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You can keep up with breaking news on our politics page throughout the day. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

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Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

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