Tag Archives: DACA

Undocumented Lawbreakers

The other day, several news outlets carried an emotional scene from an airport, where an undocumented woman who had been in the United States for 30 years, and given birth to  three children who are American citizens, was being deported. She’d come here as a teenager and was being “returned” to a country she only dimly remembered.

Ah yes! In Donald Trump’s America, we’re getting rid of those dangerous criminals from other countries. It’s particularly rewarding to see ICE ramp up deportation for those who came to the U.S. illegally as two- and four-year-olds, using their criminal parents to carry them over the border. Getting rid of them will make America Great Again–and that’s good, because there are so many things we won’t do to make America great.

We won’t try to make America great by tightening gun laws to cut down on the daily mayhem and violence (caused almost exclusively by angry native-born white guys). We won’t work to make America great by repairing our crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure. We aren’t even willing to make America fair by really reforming the tax code to eliminate loopholes that unnecessarily favor the wealthy, or by raising the minimum wage so that working people can make ends meet, or by ensuring that everyone has access to health care.

No–in Trump’s America, we’re not only deporting people whose only “crime” was coming here without going through a tortuous legal process that can take years, we’re repealing the minimal protections the Obama Administration extended to undocumented persons who were children when they were brought here by their parents.

DACA–Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals–addressed the utter cruelty of uprooting children who had no part in the decision to come here, young people who have been productive and law-abiding, who grew up here and have known no other country. As USA Today recently summarized the measure, DACA

allows two-year stays for certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday who have attended school or joined the military and have not committed any serious crimes.

They receive a renewable two-year period of deportation protections and eligibility for a work permit. Some enrollees are currently on their third term.

There are roughly 800,000 individuals temporarily protected from deportation by the DACA program.

DACA was a short-term, emergency, humanitarian measure extended by President Obama due to persistent Congressional failure to act on desperately needed immigration reforms. Trump’s attack on DACA is further evidence of his willingness to hurt innocent people in furtherance of a white nationalist agenda that–so far as we can tell–is his only agenda. (Other than self-aggrandizement, of course.)

We should certainly deport people who came here illegally and committed serious crimes. We can argue about deporting undocumented people who came here as adults and subsequently committed minor crimes. However, I am unable to conceive of any argument that would justify expelling young people who had no part in the decision to cross the border, who have spent most of their lives in the United States (and often speak only English), and who are contributing to society in a multitude of ways.

One of my students is a DACA enrollee. Her younger brother is an American citizen, born after her parents settled in the United States. She’s an excellent student. She’s also understandably passionate about fixing both immigration law and state laws that burden undocumented persons. She volunteers for several nonprofit organizations, and she knows a lot more about the U.S.Constitution than most of my native-born students. I fail to see how deporting her would make America great.

In fact, deporting her–and those like her–would make America very, very small.






From Reuters (as well as a number of other media outlets) we learn that

President Donald Trump is expected to rescind an Obama administration policy that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants who as children entered the country illegally, setting the stage for a fight with U.S. business leaders and lawmakers over tough immigration policy.

The article goes on to detail the negative response of the business community to the proposed action, and economists’ prediction that such a move would hurt economic growth and depress tax revenues.

Leave aside the economic consequences. Trump’s willingness to inflict immense human misery is what’s truly appalling. This would be the most immoral action taken thus far by a profoundly immoral administration.

The targets of this move are not criminals. They aren’t even immigration scofflaws; they didn’t choose to come to the United States illegally. They were children. They were brought here by their parents. Most of them have never known another home; significant numbers speak only English. They are productive citizens, small businesspeople and dependable employees, whose value to their communities has been amply documented. Why on earth would Trump want to deport them?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Reuters tells us that the overwhelming majority of the Dreamer immigrants came from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Most are brown, and brown and black people are  by definition un-American “others” to the White Supremacists, neo-Nazis and other assorted bigots who are Trump’s core supporters.

Trump’s utter lack of human empathy has been obvious for a long time; it was prominently on display during his trip to Houston. So it is pointless to expect him to understand or care about the wrenching reality of his proposed order.

Vox has focused on that reality.

Hundreds of thousands of families in the US are anxiously awaiting a decision from President Donald Trump that could change the course of their lives. Will they lose their jobs? Will they have to drop out of college? Will immigration agents knock on their doors to kick them out of the country they consider home? And what will happen to their American kids if they have to leave?…

In the five years since DACA went into effect, thousands of undocumented immigrants have been able to go to college, get driver’s licenses and get jobs and pay taxes for the first time. Many now have their own children, who are American citizens. Parents with DACA are wrestling with the question of what to tell their children, and whether it would be best to leave them in the United States or take them away if they are forced to leave.

When comprehensive immigration reform once again failed to pass Congress, Obama addressed the situation of the so-called “Dreamers” with an executive order creating DACA–Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It allowed a defined subset of young undocumented immigrants to get temporary Social Security numbers and deportation protection. They had to pass criminal background checks, pay taxes, and renew their DACA status every two years. The program was a temporary fix, but during the campaign, Clinton vowed to maintain it.

Trump, of course, made anti-immigrant rhetoric the centerpiece of a campaign that pandered, bigly, to rightwing bigotries.

It is heartbreaking to read the comments of DACA recipients interviewed in the Vox article. These are good people who are in an untenable situation because for years, Congress has consistently failed to pass an immigration bill. Most recently, rather than give President Obama a political “win,” the GOP simply blocked efforts to negotiate a legislative solution to a problem everyone recognized.

Now we have a President whose terrifying ignorance of government is matched only by his inability to think of anyone but himself. If Congress cannot be moved to action by the plight of 800,000 innocent DACA immigrants, there’s no reason to believe they will ever summon the moral courage to defy this bigot-in-chief.

This is a test, and I’m very much afraid America will fail it.

As a current Internet meme puts it: It’s no longer about whether Trump has any decency. It’s about whether we do.