What Happens to a Dream Deferred?
Our 45th President swept into office with a foundation of racist claims. First, the very basis of his political participation was his false assertion (for which he has never apologized) that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Using the “birther” movement as a basis, 45 signaled to every random racist out there that he was willing to ignore truth to attack President Obama.
Then, he used horrible rhetoric to describe Mexican people as violent rapists, followed by his usual “and some of them are very nice.” He suggested that a federal judge could not do his job because he was of Mexican descent. And much of his campaign was focused on deporting people. The pace of deportations has increased in these few months since he took office.
Now, he has snatched the rug from under stable lives that a group of young people called “dreamers” have built. These young folks were brought to these United States by parents who came to this country illegally. In legal limbo, thus unable to apply for jobs or college admission, many of these young people lived shadow lives, working under the table or not at all, piecing together livelihoods as best as they could.
President Barack Obama grappled with this issue and, through executive order (because Congress would not act), created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Attorney Generals in some states have described the program as illegal and have threatened to sue for its elimination. Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions has said he would not defend the program because President Obama “overreached” in establishing it. So the camera hogging 45 actually allowed Beauregard (who he very recently dissed) to announce that DACA will be ended, although there is a “grace period” of six months.
I don’t think many understand how many hoops childhood arrivals must jump through to attain “dreamer” status. They have to pay almost $500 every two years and fill out more than a dozen forms to qualify, including forms that detail income, expenses and assets. They must have a work permit. If they move, they have to inform the US Customs and Immigration Service. And they can’t leave the country without permission, which is only sparingly granted, and usually only for educational purposes. Requests to visit relatives are rarely granted and even when permission is granted there is no guarantee that dreamers will be allowed back into the country.
So, while President Obama did a great thing by creating DACA, the program does not go far enough. Dreamers do not have the same privileges that other citizens have, and they have more responsibilities. Their status may be revoked if they have had any interactions with “law enforcement” officers, and we all know how that one goes.
While it appears that 45 has given dreamers some hope by delaying enforcement of DACA elimination for six months, and by making nice with Democratic leaders, the drama of dangling possibilities in front of folks and then snatching them away is typical 45 showmanship and irrationality. The fact that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House parrot, raised Black unemployment in a White House press conference is further evidence of this administration’s racism. Has there been any other time when these people have mentioned Black unemployment?
Part of the reason 45 is revoking DACA has to do with his anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant, racist biases. But part has to do with his administration’s attempt to eliminate anything Obama from our government. It is pathetically appalling to watch the way that 45 and his minions are obsessed with President Obama and the work he did.
As an example, Education Secretary Betsey DeVos (of good sense), has decided to “examine” the Obama approach to campus rape. She is more concerned, it seems, with those accused of rape or sexual assault, than with the victims. FBI data shows that only 5 percent of rape accusations are false. We should be more concerned about those who won’t come forward than those who are unjustly accused. But someone who works for a genital-grabber might well see things differently.
Similarly, an Obama-era regulation that would have EEOC collect data on pay differences by race and gender in companies with more than 100 employees has been suspended and so-called woman’s advocate Ivanka Trump has said that collecting such data really doesn’t matter. As many as 800 Obama executive orders and regulations have been reversed. We shouldn’t be surprised that DACA has met the same fate.
Dreamers aren’t going to simply slink back across borders to countries they have never known as adults. Moments after Beauregard Sessions’ announcement, they took it to the streets in protest. They are letting 45 and his sidekicks know that their dream won’t be deferred. We should all be inspired by their activism and stand with them for justice.