The language we are using to discuss DACA recipients and their families is one that privileges innocence while condemning people based on race. We assume the worst of those parents when many Americans, especially those who supported the termination of DACA, have never feared for the lives and futures of their children. Who are we to judge them when we know nothing about their struggle?
Many of us at UNCG have felt the sadness to some degree at some point or another over the last couple weeks regarding the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Many of us are angry over this travesty that has been committed by the Trump administration. Some of us are scared for our future or the futures of people we hold dear. As a community, UNCG has felt the fear of losing some of our own because of President Trump’s poor decision making.
As a community, we have felt for these people who were brought here as children for a better life with more opportunities. We talk about how these children had no choice in this life in America, as if their parents are the perpetrators of cruelty by bringing their children to a country they were not native to for a brighter future. We talk as if these parents are guilty of some moral wrongdoing for wanting more for their children.
Many conservatives argue that these parents could have just as easily gone through the legal channels to bring their children to America, but that process can take upwards of 10 years. Many people do not have years to wait because they face various dangers in their country. Poverty and violence are threatening the lives of their children.
America promises opportunity and endless possibilities to all no matter their identity, but I am confident people would not be up in arms against these illegal immigrants if they were white. It seems clear that we are condemning these Latino immigrants because they are Latino and not European. If there were European parents fearing the future of their children, the majority of Americans, especially those opposing Latino immigrants, would likely welcome them with open arms. This systemic racism can be difficult to pinpoint because it hides behind the guise of law.
Instead of condemning these parents for wanting a better life for their children, we should be condemning the systems, administrations and individuals who would have them leave behind this brighter future because of prejudices they hold against Latino people.
We should be supporting these families who want to give more to their children than life had previously offered them. Research has shown that these families are good for our economy, so why are Americans condemning them while also complaining about our economy? The process of coming here, even illegally, is a difficult one. Many people overlook the difficulty that comes with the path of coming here illegally; if people make that decision, they must want it very deeply to risk everything to come here.
When talking about illegal immigrants and DREAMers, we need to change the language we use. We need to start listening to the stories of immigrants and try to understand why they might want to come here. In a country with a conservative political party who have wealth and feel entitled to even more, we need to learn to show compassion to people who come from less privileged lives than we do.
It’s time that our country change its attitude toward others. The DREAMers who were brought here as children would do the same for their own families as their parents did for them. These immigrants deserve the compassion and respect we would give to any natural born citizen in this country.
It’s time Americans get over themselves. We do not know or understand the circumstances that brought the parents of DREAMers to bring their children here for a better life even with the prosecution they would face. It’s time we demand more compassion of the current administration and our citizens. It’s time we stop claiming to be the country that accepts all people with open arms and actually do it.