Of all the many facets of immigration debate, the one that centers around DACA recipients, who we often refer to as Dreamers, will never make any sense to me.
DACA, or its proper name Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It allows them to live in the country, work and go to school as adults. To be eligible for DACA, individuals can never have committed a crime and must maintain a steady job or enrollment in school. There are no breaks for Dreamers.
On Feb. 15, the Senate failed to pass a bill that addressed immigration reform and would have protected the Dreamers, according to the Los Angeles Times. While many are concerned that this means that there will come no protection in time for the deadline President Trump set of Mar. 5, some outlets like Vox say that DACA died in September when the government stopped accepting new applications for the program.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Trump discussed both the Dreamers and other aspects of immigration. He promised to find a solution that would best suit the American people because as he said, “Americans are Dreamers, too;” a statement that only seems to grow in insensitivity and ignorance in light of what seems to be the final end on a piece of legislation that was relatively uncontroversial at its conception.
It certainly looks grim for the Dreamers.
But, it shouldn’t. What the president got wrong in the statement “Americans are Dreamers, too” weren’t the words but the order: Dreamers are Americans, too.
Perhaps not in the legal sense — we all know that by now. But, Dreamers have spent their lives in this country. They’ve spent their formative years on American soil. They share our values, our heartaches and our hopes. They work hard to stay here.
The concept of citizenship is important, I’ll not contest that. But, just like individuals who are given birthright citizenship, Dreamers didn’t choose to come to America; it’s just where they ended up. Yet, they embody what I was always taught were the true American values. They work hard. They do what’s right. They’re representing a better tomorrow for their families. If that’s not what an American is, perhaps we need to rethink the definition.