I don’t know if it has to do with my Catholic upbringing, or the fact that I’m an Eagles fan, but I’ve always had an acute appreciation for victims of circumstance. As a child I was taught to care for “the least of these,” which is probably why I am so fervently anti-abortion. Those who have no recourse, and no voice, need champions and we are the ones who need to step in and speak for them.
To a lesser, although not entirely different extent, Eagles fans have an innate understanding of what it means to be blighted, cursed, doomed and at the mercy of an angry god. We are defenseless (and our offense isn’t that great, either) before the often brutal forces of nature, and we wear our victimhood like a noble green-and-white hairshirt.
I think that’s why I was particularly incensed by the actions of newly anointed District Attorney Larry Krasner when he marched into office and fired many of the men and women who spent their careers worrying about victims.
But the reference to Krasner has some strange symmetry with another event that happened in the same week that the new Philadelphia D.A. demonstrated just how little concern he has for victims.
Late on Tuesday evening, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked President Trump’s attempt to dismantle Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA. Judge William Alsup ruled that the plaintiffs who challenged the Trump administration’s move, which was announced in early September, had shown that they would suffer irreparable harm if the program were eliminated, and that they would also likely win on the merits.
The judge also engaged in some delightful schadenfreude when he used President Trump’s tweets against him by noting that Trump “stated his support for DACA, tweeting ‘Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!’”
Judge Alsup concluded that President Trump was right (oh, the irony!) and ruled that “for the reasons DACA was instituted, and for the reasons tweeted by President Trump … the public interest will be served by DACA’s continuation.”
I know that a lot of people, including a large number of #MAGA folk, are disgusted with this turn of events. For them, DACA is just another example of illegality being given a thin, smelly veneer of legitimacy. I hear the arguments all the time about violating our laws, threatening our national security, making a mockery of our system of justice, putting innocent American lives in danger, etc.
I am not insensitive to arguments about illegal immigration, even though I have a hard time discussing the issues with people who tend to confuse immigrants with terrorists and compare people who enter the country without permission to axe murderers. That kind of gross thinking is just, well, gross.
But DACA is the lowest hanging fruit on the controversial immigration tree, and it should be easy enough to agree that kids who are for all intents and purposes “American” should be able to work, go to school, serve in the military and contribute to society. Not all of them were brought here by their parents at a tender age, but the vast majority were. They all either graduated from high school, go their GEDs or are still enrolled. They haven’t committed felonies, and most don’t even have misdemeanor records or traffic violations. If they did, they wouldn’t qualify for DACA.
Believe me, I’ve had a few clients rejected for the benefit. They are very strict in their vetting process.
Most of the people who disagree with me on this point will never be convinced that DACA is anything but an amnesty, the most misused word since “bigly.” I’m not even going to try and persuade them that these immigrants, the eldest of whom are in their early 30s and the youngest of whom are barely teenagers, are good people. We have to pick our battles.
I will, however, insist that they are victims of a political system that thinks in primary colors, in exaggerations, in macro principles, in stereotypes. Heck, they’re just victims.
And that’s my point: The reason I was so apoplectic with Larry Krasner, the Public Defender D.A., is his refusal to care about the real victims in society. His primary concern is for the “wrongly accused,” and not the wrongly abused. His philosophy is antithetical to everything I hold dear.
But so are the people who point fingers at the DACA folk, refusing to see that they are also victims of those who think that the only good immigrant is the one who stands in a line that doesn’t exist.
Christine Flowers is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.