They are ALL 'Dreamers'!

 Migrant workers harvest corn on Uesugi Farms in Gilroy, CA on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

Migrant workers harvest corn on Uesugi Farms in Gilroy, CA on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

While the battle rages in D.C. over the future of those who qualify for or have received DACA, all-together minimized or forgotten is the injustice being committed towards their parents.  Somewhere along the line, a pragmatic decision was made that calculated that the best shot at a political victory, for both DACA recipients and those who are qualified but have yet to apply for the program, was to, in part, stir sympathy for them as victims.  They were brought here 'through no fault of their own'.  What does that imply as far as whose fault it was?  Why of course, it was the parents!  They were the 'criminals' who violated our sacred belief in the 'rule of law'.  This is why I have a problem with the current title of 'Dreamers', not because I don't think it is an appropriate description of the amazing young men and women to whom it is currently applied.  I just think it is true of ALL undocumented immigrants.

parents dream all the time

I wonder if President Trump ever had dreams about his children's future.  I'm assuming he did.  And I'm not talking about the overly controlling dreams which all parents are susceptible to, perhaps pinning the hopes of vicariously fulfilling our own unrealized ambitions through the life and accomplishments of our offspring.  But dreams born of love, fueling a drive to make any sacrifice deemed necessary for their children so that they could have every opportunity to succeed in life.  Aren't these dreams worth recognizing?  

Luba Cortez shared the story of one such Dreamer, her mom, in a great Op-Ed piece in the New York times in June of 2016.  This mom left behind a career as a lawyer in Mexico to become a housekeeper in New York City.  I am sure that in many ways she sacrificed her own dreams for the hope of her daughter's.  The same is true of Christian Olvera's mom and dad, who he now has to drive to their work due to their fear that even a minor trafficking offense could trigger deportation.  Yet the extreme right columnist and contributor to The Daily Caller, David Benkof, called this decision that Luba's mom and Christian's parents made, along with millions of other parents, "stunningly callous and cruel" given the risks of future deportation.

historical amnesia

Mr. Benkof and others who take a hard-line on what they call "chain migration", including President Trump and Stephan Miller, are not only displaying a shocking lack of basic human empathy by saying such things, but also a significant amount of amnesia as it relates to their own personal history.  Unless your among the approximately two percent of the total U.S. population who are Native Americans, you have to retrace your genealogical steps back to someone who shared the same dreams as these undocumented parents.  Al Jazeera did a fantastic job pointing this out in a a short video they recently released:

I personally have found it impossible to understand how people can advocate for legislation that, had it been in effect at the time, might have blocked their own ancestors from pursuing their dreams in a new nation.

The Pharaohs blame the slaves...again

Back to today's undocumented Dreamers, young and old, it's as if American history is repeating itself as the Pharaohs again blame those they enslaved.  "We the people" have, through the officials we elected, been complicit in the systemic exploitation of yet another entire ethnic group by creating laws and then selectively enforcing them over decades in order to reap the benefits of cheap labor.  It's ironic that the top two industries where undocumented immigrants make up the largest percentage of the workforce are private housekeeping and agriculture.  It's like we were inconvenienced by the Civil Rights movement and had to switch out black people for brown people.

Meanwhile, the religious people who elected President Trump, specifically the 81 percent of white Evangelicals who are supposed to be the most "pro-family", lend political support to the very policies that will tear good, hardworking families apart.  But that is a demon I will leave them to exorcise.

what you and I can do

So what can you and I do right now? 

  1. Call your representatives in Congress in the House of Representatives and the Senate and tell them that you want them to protect ALL Dreamers, including the parents of those who have received or are qualified for DACA.  At the very least, provide them with temporary legal status with a reasonable pathway to permanent legal residency, a solution that seems to have some bi-partisan support.  Let your representatives know that their record on this issue will greatly impact your vote next time they are up for re-election.
  2. At the local level, advocate that your city become a 'sanctuary city'.  
  3. Consider various forms of civic disobedience.  Religious congregations can become sanctuaries because ICE policy still will not allow arrests at houses of worship.
  4. Educate your family and friends on undocumented immigrants in contrast to the demagoguery spewing out of the White House and their allies.  No, undocumented immigrants are NOT a 'drain on our economy' and in reality are far less prone to criminal activity than the native born population.  These are just a few examples. 
  5. When it is safe and appropriate to do so, introduce skeptics to real dreamers.  It won't always work, but in my own extensive experience with refugees I found it to be incredibly effective in helping opponents of immigration reform move past their dehumanizing stereotypes. 

Collectively if we persevere in these actions, I believe in the end we will win this fight and advance the opportunity for all of us, without exception, to dream.