We defend the American Dream, therefore, we defend DACA—our “dreamers”

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

America wants to deport our “dreamers.” The livelihood of nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants that live and work in America is threatened by President Donald Trump and his administration.

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that protects young undocumented immigrants from getting deported. There will be a six-month delay for reinforcement, during which time dreamers can reapply and Congress can pass legislation that could allow them to stay.

Dismembering DACA is a direct contradiction to the American spirit. To defend the American dream, we must first defend DACA.

DACA is a two-year work permit program that protects young undocumented immigrants from being deported if they came to the United States before their 16th birthday. Dreamers must reapply every two years, showing that they are currently studying or have graduated from high school and that they have not be convicted of any felonies. DACA is not a pathway to citizenship.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on June 15, 2012, announcing that the Department of Homeland Security would not target dreamers for deportation.

Besides protection from deportation, DACA improves lives. DACA recipients can get better jobs, invest in homes and cars and apply for higher education. According to the Center for American Progress, higher wages among DACA recipients translates into an increase of sale and property taxes, which benefits all Americans.

An overwhelming number of DACA recipients pursuing educational fields said that without this program they never would have had such an opportunity. DACA is improving the lives of future generations. But more than anything, it is the right thing to do.

Republicans have fought tooth-and-nail against DACA, calling it an unconstitutional power grab that changed law without the consent of Congress. But, ultimately, DACA did not become formal legislation and was left in legal limbo.

Throughout President Trump’s campaign, he vowed harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants. In June 2017, 10 state attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to sue the federal government if the Trump administration did not end DACA. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III backed out of threats to sue Sept. 1.

The repercussions of ending DACA will not affect the men who will end the program. The repercussions will fall solely on those who were too young to decide to come to America. Young undocumented immigrants only know America as home, and they feel in their hearts that they are American.

Ending programs like DACA is a signal that President Trump’s agenda to “Make America Great Again” means reversing Obama-era programs and legislation.

In the eyes of some, DACA is a step forward in treating undocumented immigrants as the neighbors, classmates and people we encounter every day. But, in the eyes of others, DACA is a step away from the “Great America” that President Trump is chasing.

But to be a great nation, we need immigrants. As a country built by immigrants, we are going against the very foundation that our country was built on.

Our Founding Fathers immigrated from Great Britain and colonized. African Americans were brought to America as slaves. Immigration, voluntary and involuntary, is the basis of our culture, bringing diversity into our giant melting pot.

We expect our elected officials to make decisions that benefit the country and protect the minority, but dismantling DACA does none of that. The decision to end DACA is insensitive and heartbreaking, and characteristic of President Trump and his administration. Many have taken to social media to express their despair over this decision.

“If Trump decides to end DACA, it will be one of the ugliest and cruelest decisions ever made by a president in our modern history,” Bernie Sanders tweeted on Sept. 3.

Congress can act to replace DACA or create a legislative fix, but previous discord on the Dream Act and its “dreamers” may prevent major decisions to be made within the six-month period.

The loss of DACA is a loss to the American people, whether we acknowledge it or not. We lose a generation who can contribute to society economically, culturally and politically. We lose a piece of ourselves and our American spirit.