In an unprecedented turn of events, President Trump has “agreed” to fix DACA and resolved their border-security plan, “excluding” the US-Mexico border wall after a meeting with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
However, whether or not DACA is secured, the divide between stances on immigration are distinctive.
For many Americans, we pride ourselves as the land of opportunity and diversity. Personally, as a daughter of immigrants, the American Dream and immigration story are tied into one. My great grandparents came as farmers from Japan to escape a place where food was scarce and there was no work or opportunity for them. In America they found jobs as orange pickers in Fresno, and then as gardeners in LA. However, as they began setting down roots in American soil, they and their children were faced with many difficulties. They were blamed for stealing American jobs, and they were not allowed to become US citizens. Despite this, their children (my grandparents) were naturalized US citizens. Even though my great grandparents were legal residents and my grandparents were US citizens, they were imprisoned by the US. The excuse stated for the imprisonment without legal due process was national security. The underlying bigotry, war hysteria and xenophobia are now acknowledged as the true reasons for these actions.
Like the time of my great grandparents and grandparents, fear for national security, and immigrants “stealing” American jobs, and the law are held up as reasons Dreamers should not be accepted by the US. Is the reason in fact the same underlying bigotry and xenophobia that motivated infamous actions such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Geary Act, Immigration Act of 1917, Cable Act of 1922, and Immigration Act of 1924 and Executive Order 9066, the imprisonment of all people of Japanese descent? These were laws, but they were wrong. It would not be the first time America has reacted to xenophobia and bigotry.
Similar to my grandparents’ experience, DACA recipients are ideal good Americans. They are growing the economy, getting an education, have no criminal record, and have grown up in our schools and country as their parents forged the same foundation for their children in hopes that they have a better life with more opportunity than what their country of birth granted. Let us hope that we can overcome these fears and give Dreamers the opportunity to pursue their American Dream.
Here are some other student perspectives on DACA:
Ricardo Lombera, age: 17
DACA has helped over 800,000+ young, intelligent individuals get temporary citizenship. No DACA recipient aspires to be a criminal, a rapist, or a murder [sic]. They aspire to be politicians, doctors, lawyers, and only hope for a place to call home to get to at the end of the day. People are voicing their opinion on matters that they should have no say in. Saying that “all DACA recipients must be deported” is immoral and disrespectful. Especially Mr. Trump. As the son of an immigrant mother, he should know how hard immigrants work to make a living. If America is really the land of opportunity, our government needs to start ACTING LIKE IT! With their temporary citizenship gone, hundreds of thousands of individuals live in fear that will get deported and not complete their education as they hoped to. Many DACA recipients do not even remember the place that they were born in and going to a nation that they do not know anything about will only make them feel even more worse than when they were put into ICE trucks like animals and shipped away like cargo. Think about the younger DACA students that are not able to complete their education or get their citizenship. So before you open your mouth and degrade someone simply because of the nation that they were born, put yourself in their shoes… [and] understand their struggle to simply live their lives in peace.
Kavi Gill, age: 16
This amnesty, among other things, denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs. Additionally, it is clear that illegal immigration is against the law. Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) says: “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable”. It’s quite simple, if an individual is here illegally, they are subject to deportation.
Hector Murillo, age: 18
With the recent rescind of DACA, we are left to wonder, what happens to the majority ambitious 800,000+ students who were enrolled? Now I make it clear that I am not a DACA enrollee myself, however, that simple statement does not make it just to not stand for a basic human right of positive freedom. Strangers, friends, family–all are affected by this decision, therefore it affects me just as much as it affects them, at least on an emotional standpoint. Now, a one word summary of my feelings toward this decision would be–disappointment.
Now the root of disappointment does not come with the fact that the decision makers were Republican, it was more of a sense of, where has our humanity gone? To paraphrase a quote by Mr. Trump when he was campaigning for president back in 2015, we want dreamers in America–enough of dreamers coming from other countries, it’s time for Americans to dream! Now there is no problem with advocating for your people to dream and better themselves, but why at the expense of other people? People who strive to attend 4 year colleges (97% of DACA enrollees attend a 4 year or community college). People who bring an economic upside to the US. People with families that came to this country when the DACA enrollee was 6 or younger and had absolutely no say in the decision making.
Bottom line, it does not matter what your political party is and I can’t emphasize that enough. In fact, I agree with the statement that Democrats are not always right while Republicans are not always wrong. Mediation is healthy, it allows us to gain a new perspective by listening to what an opposing side has to say, remember that. But to have this decision to be based on a nationalistic and egocentric viewpoint is incorrect in every way. These students no longer have four year plans for college, as they can’t predict where they will be in 2 years per say.
We will continue our fight for the rights of all DACA members and their families, and to be optimistic, I believe we will make it through this obstacle as we are determined, ambitious, and resilient.