Let me say at the outset: this column will, to some degree, oversimplify a larger, more complex issue. It is my hope that it challenges you to have difficult discussions with friends, loved ones, and co-workers so long as it doesn’t get you in trouble or fired. I’m not paying your bills if you get canned for arguing with “Debra from Accounts Receivable” about the definition of “Woke” or why North Korea is an existential threat. That’s between y’all. I just want you thinking about the topics in a way that makes you go out read more about them, become informed and form your own opinions.
The American D(ACA)ream
They were kids, guys. That’s where we should all start with this. If you hear DACA or Dreamers think kids. Children. Little people who were brought to this country whether they wanted to be here or not. They were forced to come here, And they lived quietly with the uncertainty and stress and fear of deportation for many years.
Then, in June 2012, the Obama Administration granted them a reprieve through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. If they met multiple criteria checks they could have their deportation temporarily placed on hold for two years. The idea is that these children, these kids, be allowed, even encouraged, to become fully functioning, productive members of society while also attempting to become permanent, lawful citizens. They grew roots in the community, had families, and lived their lives. That’s it. The entire thing. So while they fight for citizenship, what do we get? First Responders, Doctors, and Service Members.
Basically, on average, Dreamers are pretty badass people. No, correction: they’re badass Americans. And now they’re living in fear of being pushed out of the only place many have ever called home.
Dreamers truly fight to live the American dream and do so to America’s benefit. Foreign-born children – did I mention they’re kids when they come here? – whether or not they know the culture or language or have friends or extended family, they have to figure out a way to make it work. And they do. They actually do it. That’s a part of what makes them so special.
We told them in order to qualify for this program you had to meet basic criteria for age and time in country, but the germane requirements for conversation are here: be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or be honorably discharged from the Armed Forces; don’t have a criminal record; and don’t pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Did you catch it? We told them they could meet the standards for DACA if they’d served in the military. We told these kids that if they picked up a weapon and fought for this country they would have a path to stay and try to become citizens. So they did that. They went and served and fought and some of them died in the process.
And now, we could be telling the rest it doesn’t matter. Their service, their sacrifice, isn’t enough. These people aren’t a security threat. These are young, dedicated people who’ve devoted their lives to obtain what we have by simple birthright. Give them the opportunity, and they’ll fight to earn it. These are the type of people we want to stay in our country and our military, not the ilk we want to push out.
The very essence of a dream is what builds and sustains our country. The best and brightest American minds and their successes started as a dream. The idea of a free nation governed by its citizenry began as a simple dream. The very people DACA was designed to support are already on their way to achieving their dream. Given its history, how can an America, the land of opportunity, rescind this ideal?
Want to think about this more? Check out some of these links below: