The past few weeks proved to be a period of great tumult for around 800,000 of this country’s young, documented immigrants.
Legally protected since 2012 by an executive memorandum titled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this group of young people met all criteria to become eligible to stay in the United States to work or attend school.
Since August-arguably since the genesis of Donald Trump’s campaign, or the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, anxiety has run through the veins of minorities across the United States.
President Trump has especially made these last few months a living horror for DACA recipients, their families, and their friends by calling into question their protected status.
Expressing love for them after a campaign of despicable rhetoric, only to flip-flop a few days later by directing his Department of Homeland Security( DHS) to begin a phase-out of the program, the president’s action and comments are surely was a cause for confusion.
Trump leaves their fate up in question, with no one able to discern his motives or dissect his thinking, except maybe through a 140-character tweet.
These are not criminals, rapists or gang members. These are our classmates, our firefighters, our doctors and our lawyers. Most of these immigrants came to the U.S. illegally, yes, but through no choice of their own.
Too young to understand the possible implications of their parent’s decisions to immigrate here, they undoubtedly had no idea they would be facing this much vitriol in the year 2017 by the leader of the country that was stated to bear so much promise and opportunity for them.
While a majority of DACA recipients are from Mexico, it is important to note that individuals from various other countries exist within this group, as well.
This debate is not a simple dichotomy between legal immigration and illegal immigration.
This is a question of whether children will incur punishment for their parent’s actions. This is a moral, economic and American question. It is about our values. It is about whether we, as a country, are prepared to expel people who chose to come out of the shadows and contribute to our society.
These immigrants represent the promise and love of Lady Liberty, who has served as a beacon of hope for generations of newcomers.
We owe to them our protection and acceptance. Because they are not them anymore. They are us. They are Americans.
We can hope for comprehensive immigration reform all we want. Both sides of the aisle in Washington agree that we need it.
But to think after years with no consensus legislators will suddenly now be able to beat a six-month deadline to come up with a plan is a farce.
Senate Democrats have gotten ahold of Trump’s ear, and a deal to preserve DACA is not completely out of the question yet. But with ominous directives already passed down to DHS, giving vast authority and discretion for the enforcement of the ordered phase out, it is hard to not think the gears are already in motion.