Newsletter: DACA stands, for now

"Dreamers" and their supporters stage a celebratory car caravan around MacArthur Park in Los Angeles on Thursday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, June 19. I’m Kiera Feldman, filling in for Julia Wick, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected one of President Trump’s signature plans: his long campaign to end the Obama-era program that gave temporary protection against deportation to 700,000 young immigrants.

Beginning in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowed undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States as children to apply for work permits and remain in the country legally. DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” had to reapply every two years. The program has essentially been on hold since 2017 after it was rescinded by the Trump administration. Dreamers have been in legal limbo ever since.

About 27,000 Dreamers work in healthcare and more than 10,000 are students in the California State University and University of California systems. California is home to about 200,000 DACA recipients — more Dreamers than any other state — and has led the legal effort to protect the program from the Trump administration’s attacks.


Oscar Hernandez graduated from UCI Medical School last month. Hernandez, a 31-year-old Dreamer who was brought to the U.S. as a toddler, feared he wouldn’t complete his five-year residency in Ohio and be able to practice medicine in this country.

“I can go to work tomorrow,” Hernandez said. “I can keep pursuing my passion of helping through healthcare.”

[Read the story: “Some DACA recipients rejoiced at Supreme Court ruling. Others are cautiously optimistic” in the Los Angeles Times]

[See also: “Supreme Court rules for ‘Dreamers,’ rejects Trump’s repeal of immigration program” in the Los Angeles Times]

“Today, people with DACA have a second chance; we have some breathing room now, but we re-commit today to nothing less than comprehensive immigration reform for everyone — no carve-outs, no exceptions, no deals,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

DACA recipients have gone to top universities, launched nonprofits, joined politics, and appeared in Hollywood movies. Even as they found success in the U.S., they understood their lives hung in the balance.

Claudia Rueda at a protest outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Thursday.
Claudia Rueda cries while talking about the Supreme Court decision at a protest outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“I realize I got DACA because of a politician and it can be taken away by another politician,” Dreamer Vladimir Mendoza told the Times in November.

[Read the story: “DACA changed a generation of California immigrants. These are some of their stories” in the Los Angeles Times]

The Supreme Court ruling called the Trump administration’s move to rescind the program “arbitrary and capricious.” But the court didn’t weigh in on the legality of the program itself. It was, essentially, a rebuke on procedural grounds.

Nothing prevents Trump administration officials from “taking another shot” at DACA, former director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services León Rodriguez told the Times.

[Read the story: “The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s attempt to end DACA. Now what?” in the Los Angeles Times]

“I’m really worried that they will say, ‘Fine, we will protect you all from deportation, but no work authorization for any of you, there’s no legal basis for it,’” Rodriguez said. “These are folks who have driver’s licenses, they go to school, they work — to suddenly cross that out, even if all those folks still remain in the U.S., on many levels, individual, families, the economy, communities — it would make a huge mess.”

And so the future of the Dreamers remains uncertain. Long-term protection would require legislative action.

“Congress could fix this tomorrow — that’s the whole reason why we’re here,” said Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care. The order comes a day after the state set a new single-day record for coronavirus cases, topping 4,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. Recently, even as the statewide death toll has risen above 5,300, a vocal crew of mask haters targeted public health officials at their homes. Los Angeles Times

New details are emerging about the killing of the half brother of Robert Fuller, the 24-year-old Black man found hanging in Palmdale last week. On Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Terron Boone, 31, after a traffic stop that authorities said was for an investigation of alleged crimes unrelated to Fuller’s death. None of the detectives nor their vehicles were equipped with cameras. Los Angeles Times


The Los Angeles Board of Education will consider phasing out school police, essentially eliminating the department over the next four years. Student activists say the police presence criminalizes young people — especially Black students — and that the annual $70-million budget for policing should be shifted to other services, including more mental health counselors, nurses and programs providing behavioral counseling. Earlier this week, L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner recommended that school police stop pepper spraying kids and using carotid holds, also known as a sleeper hold. Los Angeles Times

Despite new anti-eviction rules passed in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, landlords are still trying to evict tenants, especially in Black and Latino areas of South L.A. Landlords are locking people out of their homes, turning off their utilities and deploying other illegal methods, an analysis of data from the Los Angeles Police Department has found. Los Angeles Times

Bars, nail salons, tattoo parlors and more are given the green light to open in L.A. County on Friday. The announcement comes as the county’s death toll surpassed 3,000. Los Angeles Times

AMC movie theaters will open nationwide in mid-July with seating capacity at 30%. CEO Adam Aron says AMC theaters won’t require masks upon reopening because they didn’t “want to be drawn into a political controversy.” Variety

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Trump heads to Tulsa for a campaign rally on Saturday in the city’s historically Black Greenwood District, a move seen as a slap in the face to locals. The area was known as “Black Wall Street” before white mobs killed at least 300 Black people in a 1921 massacre that destroyed Black homes and businesses. Los Angeles Times

Under pressure, L.A. agrees to provide 6,000 new beds to people living in camps under freeways. The agreement is the result of a court order and comes after the annual homeless count released last Friday estimated the county’s unhoused population is 66,433, up nearly 13% from the prior year. Los Angeles Times

The coronavirus outbreak decimated California’s economy. Millions of workers lost their jobs after business closures and mass layoffs. The largest job losses are in urban areas such as Los Angeles, but workers in rural regions, such as the state’s interior and far north, have also lost work because of the lockdown, a new unemployment tracker shows. Los Angeles Times


PG&E was ordered to pay $4 million for its role in causing the 2018 fire that killed 84 people, though the judge acknowledged that the punishment didn’t fit the enormity of the crime. The utility pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and will report to an outside monitor. Los Angeles Times


L.A. County health department opens probe into rising COVID-19 cases among construction workers at SoFi Stadium. The inquiry comes less than two months before the Rams and Chargers are scheduled to play their first games. At least 18 workers have contracted the virus at the $5-billion project in Inglewood. Los Angeles Times

New COVID-19 outbreaks trigger the possibility of tighter restrictions in San Diego County. The county had eight new community outbreaks in a seven-day period, and public health officials have paused reopening plans. San Diego Union-Tribune


June 19 marks the holiday known as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas found out about their freedom two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Angelenos have celebrated the end of slavery in the United States in many ways and on different dates throughout history. Los Angeles Times

No Juneteenth plans this year? You can mark the day with protests, live music and Zoom cookouts. LAist

Film and TV shows are gearing up for production with new coronavirus precautions, and extras fear they will be replaced with a green screen. Crowd scenes are basically out, with county rules requiring anything closer than six feet to be “as brief as possible” and “cast must be as silent as possible to avoid spreading droplets through talking.” The Hollywood Reporter

Don’t skip out on routine medical appointments. Bay Area doctors are worried about patients forgoing preventive care during the COVID-19 pandemic. San Francisco Chronicle

More campgrounds are opening in California, and here’s a guide to see where you can go and what the rules are. Trails, beaches and parks in Southern California are open, and experts agree the outdoors is good for you. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 72. San Diego: partly cloudy, 69. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 67. San Jose: sunny, 86. Fresno: sunny, 103. Sacramento: sunny, 99. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Julia Kent:

I have cozy memories of a 1990s-era road trip through the Avenue of Giants with my mom, dad and sister. Nestled in the back seat with blankets and treats, my sister and I turned off our Game Boys and Walkmen and gazed out the windows in wonder at the magnificent redwoods surrounding us, while mom read ‘Jane Eyre’ to us from the front seat. I remember the cool damp air hitting my face when we rolled down the windows, and the comfortable feeling of the forest hugging us from every side.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.