Immigration advocates are unveiling a fresh advocacy campaign on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program aimed directly at President Donald Trump -- even as a March 5 deadline has been rendered toothless and Congress is retreating from action.
The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a six-figure campaign Sunday to keep the issue up front, using digital and TV advertising as well as local protests and targeted messaging.
The campaign is designed to get the president's attention, using a mix of digital geo-targeting and physical presence.
The ACLU's national political director, Faiz Shakir, described the theory behind the effort as getting the issue in front of Trump and sending the message that he uniquely can reach a solution if he commits to it.
"I think the one important thing that I feel like we all appreciated and learned about Donald Trump is that he is a person who reacts to headlines. He's a person who reacts to PR, publicity and attention, and if you're not in his face on headlines and press, then essentially you're kind of outside of his scope," Shakir said in an interview. "Whatever we can do to try to make it a front-and-center, in-front-of-his-face issue, that's what we're going to try to do."
As of Sunday, the ACLU campaign will be on TV screens, in D.C. cabs, local political newspapers and other outlets, and streaming apps.
The civil liberties group also plans to buy ads on "Fox and Friends," a show the president regularly watches, and Twitter ads designed to help supporters tweet directly at Trump and get into his Twitter feed, another presidential favorite.
The 30-second ad intersperses clips of Trump saying how much he supports DACA and its recipients with direct calls to action, saying in text directed at the president: "You killed DACA. ... Fix what you broke before it's too late."
The group will also debut a banner with Trump's face and a countdown clock to March 5 in front of the White House on Sunday, as well as work to have demonstrators in California when Trump travels to San Diego, perhaps later this month, to see his border wall prototypes.
— ACLU of Maryland (@ACLU_MD) March 4, 2018
The campaign demonstrates the long odds of achieving action on DACA in Washington, as well as the loss of meaning for the March 5 deadline. When Trump opted to terminate the program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, he planned for the permits to begin expiring after March 5, giving Congress six months to act to make the program permanent.
But court decisions have required the administration to resume renewing the two-year DACA permits indefinitely, and after a failed attempt in the Senate to pass bipartisan legislation over objections from Trump, Congress has retreated from the issue with the deadline no longer offering urgency.
Shakir said the ACLU plans to continue the push in the coming weeks and into November's elections, urging action however it can send the message.
"We're trying to find a way to be positive and optimistic to keep the enthusiasm going," Shakir said. "The court injunctions are helpful in that ... we have some hopes that we'll be able to have months of reprieve, but we don't know how many months.