The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is apparently still in question. But young people who would be impacted by its revocation are showing up and speaking out.
If Donald Trump moves forward with his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, it would be nothing short of devastating and catastrophic for families and the economy.
And his public hesitations on when exactly he will make and announce a decision — first blithely saying it would come “probably Sunday, Saturday; latest will be Monday,” and then, through press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pushing that back to Tuesday — are little more than salt in the wound.
Lives and families are at stake, and Trump — who claims to “love the DREAMers,” as those brought without papers as young children to the United States are known — shows no capacity for understanding how this waiting game is affecting them.
Even some in his own party, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, have urged Trump not to scrap the program, though mainly because they feel any element of immigration reform ought to be done through Congress.
But DREAMers and other activists have a lot more to say on the matter, and they are making their voices heard around the country.
Roughly 800,000 young people have been protected from the threat of deportation, allowing them to go to school and to work and to help support their families here and back in their countries of origin.
Some of them, like Jesus Contreras, a paramedic currently on the ground in Houston helping with relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey, are even saving lives. As he put it, the threat to DACA means “having that extra burden of having your future toyed with and argued around like it’s just some sort of political move.”
And the plight of people like Contreras has managed to change at least one heretofore hardened heart on the issue.
In June, a group of 10 Republican state attorneys general and one Republican governor sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging the Trump administration to rescind DACA and threatening to sue if it was not done by the arbitrary deadline of September 5.
There is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored. Many of the DACA recipients, some of whose records I reviewed, have outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions, which if achieved, will be of great benefit and service to our country. They have an appreciation for the opportunities afforded them by our country.
Empowered by Slatery’s about-face, DREAMers are even more ready to keep up the potent pressure on the White House.
Or, as Greisa Martinez, advocacy director for United We Dream and herself a DREAMer, worded the message to Trump: “Watch out.”
Martinez told MSNBC’s Joy Reid about the tireless activism by young people and their allies, and that the victory in Tennessee “is just another example that it’s working.”
She pointed out that the renewed hostility toward the DACA program, and toward non-white immigrants in general, is in part driven by the upsurge in white supremacist ideology the nation has witnessed, and which Trump has coddled and boosted.
But she also declared that this bigotry will not deter them, as evidenced by the March to Confront White Supremacy, a ten-day pilgrimage from Charlottesville, Virginia to Washington, D.C.
And when asked what she would say to Trump if she had the chance, Martinez was clear.
“I say, ‘Watch out!’ I say, ‘I think this is your choice, this is your moment to show what side of history you’re going to land on,'” she declared.
“Are you with the white supremacy agenda, or are you with young people of color?”
Trump can talk about loving each other all he wants, but his words are meaningless without action to back them up.
Protecting, defending, and supporting DREAMers would show that, for once, Trump wasn’t all talk.
But rescinding DACA and throwing millions of lives into frightening upheaval would make it even clearer that Trump has his feet firmly planted in the furthest reaches of the wrong side of history.