Early this month, President Trump resolved to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA], President Obama’s 2012 executive order that temporarily legalized the immigration status of 800,000 people who were brought to the United States as children and remained here without authorization.
Many of these young immigrants have no memory of the countries they were born in. In many cases their native tongue is English, and the language of their “home country” is their second language, if they speak it at all. Often they never even knew they were undocumented until their teenage years, when they discovered they couldn’t get a driver’s license, apply for a job or receive financial aid for college.
Critics of immigration often fall back on talking points that question how “American” immigrants really are. They demand cultural assimilation and fluency in English. They paint a picture of immigrants as criminals who prey upon the native-born (in fact, immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than people born in the United States).
These bad faith arguments fall apart entirely when it comes to DACA recipients, or “Dreamers.” Lauren, one of the Dreamers profiled in our videos, was born in Korea. As a child, her father wouldn’t allow her to listen to K-Pop music or hang out with friends who spoke only Korean, because he wanted her to learn to speak English like a native speaker. Dreamers grew up on American movies, play American video games, root for American sports teams and aspire to the American Dream. And 100% of DACA recipients have no serious criminal record — it’s a condition of enrollment.
Do these young people “deserve” to be deported? Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans say “no.” Yet Trump, in his eagerness to please his narrow, virulently anti-immigrant base, has rejected the will of the vast majority of the country.
Mariana, another of the Dreamers profiled in our videos, is uncomfortable with the idea of creating a special moral category for DACA recipients, because, she fears, doing so throws all other immigrants, including her parents, under the bus. Such is the inhumanity of our politics around immigration that we have become accustomed to writing off the lives of millions of people as disposable based merely on the place of their birth, or even an accident in their paperwork. Now, the Trump administration has gone even farther, expanding upon the criminalization of immigrants which the president has already done so much to stoke by invalidating the legal status of 800,000 people who know no other country than this one.