Saving the DREAM

The vast majority of us that claim the title “American” trace our origins to some other country, and usually, another continent.

Since the birth of our nation, we have grown and become stronger because of those who have sought to join all the things we have said we stand for, even though we often fall far short of the goals and standards we claim we believe.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It’s a beautiful sentiment and yet I wonder if it skews our idea of what it looks like when people immigrate to this country. Often because of what they escaped or left behind, they are the highest achievers, the hardest workers, the ones who start with the least and achieve great things. Immigrants are not permanent refugees of some sort taking up space and resources, they are new citizens, bursting with possibility and ideas.

Obviously what has this on my mind is all the news today surrounding DACA. DACA was always meant to be a stop-gap, a temporary solution to an urgent need. Repealing it with no replacement leaves hundreds of thousands of our fellow residents in a terrible and terrifying position. The DREAM Act is a solid idea, a way to transition people into citizenship, something we need more–not less–of. Ninety-one percent of dreamers are currently employed. Over 15,000 of them live in Tennessee. This is not some abstract population, these are your neighbors. Their kids might go to school with your kids.

The implications of letting DACA lapse are far reaching. Some states will see major economic impacts from the Dreamers losing their status and possibly their jobs. It has implications for schools as children of Dreamers are enrolled in K-12 programs around the country and parents may fear sending their children to school if they are facing the threat of deportation.

Which brings me to the specifics of why we need a clean DREAM Act. This Act is a stabilizing force for our society. This allows the residents in our communities to take that breath of freedom we promised, to live without the stress of their statuses being up in the air, subject to the whims of whoever is in the executive branch. It lets them continue their lives, their jobs, their business, and continue with their schooling so they can build lives for themselves. They literally ask nothing of their neighbors except the right to stay and call themselves “citizen.” Congress must work together and actually make a clean DREAM Act this time. 

These are our neighbors, fellow Americans in all but a technicality of law, a technicality that needs to be fixed.

Put yourselves in their shoes for a moment. Feel their courage, their fear, the stress, the uncertainty. Feel all that and then reach out to your members of congress in both the House and Senate and tell them why you think it’s vital to the future of our country that they work on making a clean DREAM act a reality.

The main people who have been fighting this fight to date are the young people affected by  the decisions. Last night’s ruling may have caused a mess, but overall, I think it was a victory for those young people who have fought so hard–harder than most who call themselves Americans–just for the right to live here. It’s time America started making good on it’s promises.

 

References and more reading:

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

DACA injunction: What a federal judges ruling means for ‘Dreamers’

DACA Recipients by State

MAP: How Ending DACA Could Play out across States

Shutdown/DACA state of play: A ‘mess’ with a major twist

Republicans can’t avoid Trump’s wall promises in DACA talks

US Immigration: DACA and the Dreamers explained

What is DACA and why is it ending?

If Trump wants a ‘Bill of Love,’ he should pass a clean Dream Act