A dream differed

By Michaela Wotorson
Opinion Editor


n June of 2012, the Obama administration established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy designed to offer people who entered the US illegally as minors a renewable two-year period of deportation deferral. DACA also gives its recipients work permit eligibility. On June 5, 2017, President Trump and his administration decided to not just limit but rescind DACA entirely. Today, 800,000 people are enrolled in DACA, those commonly referred to as “Dreamers.”

The common story for DACA recipients is of being brought from their homelands to the US as young as 2 or 3 years of age. For many of these children, especially those from Central America, they have limited to no knowledge of their “home” countries, their “native” language, or the families they might have there today. The United States is all they know.

When the news came that DACA was not only under threat but to be dismantled, I was in utter shock. Despite not having a personal connection to the situation of these young people, I knew deeply how important it was to immigrant communities and to the American fabric. It provides the opportunity for education and work to young people living undocumented in America as Americans, seeking the American Dream.

In the era of Trump, all of America’s woes are continually blamed on immigrants. Immigrants steal jobs, overuse welfare, endanger American political legitimacy, and anything else that uses xenophobia as a way to hide American economic and political failures. Such rhetoric is often hard for me to digest, both as a daughter of immigrants and someone who values the uniqueness of humanity. But even in the face of such vile discussion about the validity of immigrant life, I can often find the strength to shrug it off, knowing that immigration is a deep issue in America that can be reformed and bettered. With time, I can grow up to help this complex system become more accessible and less of a witch hunt. With time, immigrants of all ages, and first-generation Americans can change things. Right? Wrong.

DACA’s termination is arguably one of the most morally void acts of contemporary American politics. Now, I understand how large a claim this may be, as well as how emotionally influenced it is. But I believe that the issue is one that needs emotion in its analysis. I believe firmly in the goodness of the United States, of the American people. But I cannot sit back and let my unwavering pride in my country stop me from criticizing recent actions.

For so long as a nation we have sat around critiquing every move of undocumented immigrants. We aren’t satisfied with them being undocu-
mented, despite the fact that filing for citizenship is expensive, like $725 expensive. Then we aren’t satisfied when those who are undocumented and utilize American resources like our schools and jobs and succeed, even though they are doing the exact opposite of what we claim to so much hate about immigrants: their apparent (nonexistent) laziness.

To create a program to help undocumented children succeed and exist within the American fabric is an act America should be proud of. The issue of DACA must be separated from other migration issues: first, because it involves only children, and second, because they largely immigrated without a choice, often under the direction of their parents or guardians. This is not the same as a grown man or woman migrating alone, and it cannot be looked at as such.

The DACA recipients are testaments of what possibilities America can offer those around the world: safety, education, and well-paying jobs. To strip this from children who have done nothing to harm this nation or its ideals, to send them back to places they don’t know, is fundamentally un-American.

We as a nation are so much better than deporting children. It is a shame that it will take deporting children for us to realize this.

Posted in: Opinion

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