Since the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the “wretched refuse” of the world have sought refuge on the shores of America.
They have overcome unimaginable hardships to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. However, each wave of immigrants met hostility upon arrival.
Irish Catholics were shunned as “un-American” foreigners by nativist “Know-Nothings” in the 1840s. The gateway to America was narrowed greatly for Russian, Polish, Italian, and Jewish “Reds” in the 1920s.
Now, it is the Mexicans, the Chinese, the Guatemalans, the Indians, the Dominicans, and the Vietnamese. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency has manifested the xenophobic sentiments that have been brewing in the United States over the past decades.
Spurred by alt-right advisors and confidants close to the President and vocal members of his base, Trump ordered the phase-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA.
This executive action implemented by former President Barack Obama in June of 2012 aimed to protect undocumented migrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation.
It was inspired by the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation proposed in 2001 by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. The proposed law would extend protections to young undocumented immigrants who were brought to as minors to the U.S., serving in the military or completing an education, and free of any criminal history.
After years of stalling in the Senate, Mr. Obama used executive action to create a similar program, through which roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants have been protected from deportation.
In ending this federal program, President Trump has condemned nearly one million young Dreamers, Americans in all but their passports, to excommunication from the country they grew up and believe in. The only crime that hangs over these Americans is that their parents illegally brought them to the U.S. as children. They had no choice. It is a far greater moral crime to forcibly remove these Americans from their homes and livelihoods.
Though President Trump’s announcement could prove catastrophic for hundreds of thousands of young Americans, there is reason to hope.
Congressional Democrats reportedly negotiated a legislative deal with Trump to extend DACA protections for young undocumented immigrants in addition to greater border security, but excluding funding for a U.S.- Mexico border wall.
However, the President and his Press Secretary have denied that any such deal was struck, as formerly hardcore supporters of the President exploded in anger that their candidate would forsake his promise to deport all eleven million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States.
The issue of DACA and the DREAM Act proves to be a litmus test of the moral character of American leadership. Rather than close our doors to those who have come to better themselves and our country, let us, as a people, embrace those who have embraced us.
For those Dreamers are Americans just as we are, and it is our moral and patriotic duty to protect each other from a government that aims to infringe upon our guaranteed rights as Americans.