Monday, September 4, 2017
Trump Creates Another Disaster--Kills the Dreams of 800,000 Youngsters
LAST WEEK, we experienced a natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, that uprooted tens of thousands of fellow Americans. The people of these Texas towns were forced from their homes, taken to a strange place, with only the clothes on their back. We empathized with their situation, the uncertainty they were experiencing, and our hearts ached for them. We have no control over a natural disaster but we CAN mitigate the pain. There is hope. As the Mayor of Houston said, “We will rebuild, and in one year, we will be a city better than it was before the flood.” He exaggerated a bit on the time-line, but the point is, these people affected by the storm will be given a chance to rebuild and get back to the life they once knew.
THERE’S ANOTHER disaster brewing that potentially may be more devastating than Hurricane Harvey. This disaster is man-made and therefore can be avoided. This disaster will affect 800,000 young people in this country. This disaster would rip apart parents from their children. They will be forced from their homes and sent to a foreign country they no longer remember or never knew. They may never see their parents and close friends again. These are Americans! The only thing different between your children and the children of this disaster is their birth certificate—where they were born. Unlike the victims of Texas, these young people’s pain cannot be mitigated and they will never get back to the life they once knew.
BY THE TIME you read this column, Trump will have announced his plan for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He made a campaign promise to rescind this American immigration policy signed by President Obama in June 2012. This is also called the Dream Act and those eligible to participate in this program are called “Dreamers.” The promise to these Dreamers was if they led an impeccable life, go to school and work, they will get a work permit, renewable every two years. The Dreamers must give up all their personal information and pay the Government an application fee of $500 every two years. In return, they will not be deported.
THE DACA program has been a great success. 97% of these Dreamers are working or in school. Like you, they are paying taxes and like you, they are pursuing the American dream. But now they are being told, “We were only kidding. The hard work you have been doing in the past five years means nothing.”
IF YOU DON’T think Dreamers are worthy to be in this country, or if you could care less about what happens to these 800,000 children, perhaps it’s because you don’t know one. I do. In 2012, before the passage of DACA, I became acquainted with an exceptional young lady through her mentor. For her protection, I will call her Maria. When Maria was nine years old and her sister was younger than one- year old, her mother brought them to this country from Mexico so that her children could have a better life. Maria was an exceptional student and started working in the fields at a young age. Upon graduation from High School, her dream was to attend college. However, without the appropriate documentation and no work permit, her only alternative was to work in the fields harvesting produce.
ON THE DAY President Obama announced the signing of DACA, I called Maria to give her the good news. She was on a bus returning from the fields. When I told Maria, she shared the news with her fellow immigrant workers. I heard a huge shout of celebration. I felt pure joy for Maria at that time to know she could now pursue her dreams.
THE PAST five years have not been a cake walk for Maria, but she has worked hard to comply with the mandates of DACA. She is still in college and has only one more year to achieve her dream of being a nurse. She is now working at the hospital and working in the fields. You see, because she is not an American citizen, her tuition is double that of your child. Unlike your child that may have received a Pell Grant, she cannot even apply. She must work and save for her tuition, as well as help her family financially. I’m amazed at the progress she has made on her own.
AT THIS writing, it is being reported that on Tuesday, Trump will announce he is indeed ending DACA, but with a 6-month delay to give Congress a chance to fix DACA. How that will work out, I have no idea. I do know that these Dreamers will live in limbo for the next six months knowing they may still be deported. They will be stressed and have nightmares about what will happen to them. Many will quit school. This is cruel and inhumane treatment. This is not what America is about, or at least it wasn’t until Trump came along.
DURING THE next six months, we will see much politicalization of the fate of the Dreamers. During this time, Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling, pass a budget, and tax reform must be passed. I think the plan all along has been to use the Dreamer’s fate to place Democrats in the position of having to vote for Trump’s tax decrease for the rich.
IF Congress does not fix DACA by the 6-month deadline and Trump follows through with his threat to deport these young people, this will be the worst thing our Government has done since the Japanese Internment camps. At least the Japanese were not separated from their families. Our hearts should ache for the victims of this man-made disaster, the same way our hearts ached for the victims of the natural disaster.