This Country Needs Dreamers

Today, nearly 700,000 DACA recipients were granted a major reprieve from the Supreme Court, which ruled that the reasons the Trump administration had given for terminating the program were “arbitrary and capricious.”

DACA enables young people who came to this country before age 16 to get driver’s licenses, work authorizations, and college educations. Now, the young people who rely on it no longer have to fear losing their jobs, being separated from their families, or being deported to countries they haven’t seen since they were children. 

Instead, they’ll be able to continue to contribute to their country. About 27,000 of them are health-care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are teachers, members of the military, or small business owners. Their presence strengthens our communities. Their homes are here.

Unfortunately, this victory might only be temporary. The Trump administration plans to try to end this popular, successful program under a different rationale. That’s why Congress needs to implement a pathway to permanent citizenship for Dreamers and undocumented immigrants.  

Still, this ruling represents a powerful blow to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda. Since 2017, the administration has scapegoated, punished, detained, and deported immigrants -- in some cases leading to their deaths. Ending DACA, along with building the wall, has been one of Trump’s signature promises. But the reality is that large majorities of people in this country support a path to citizenship for Dreamers and undocumented immigrants –– and oppose the cruelty inflicted on families who have come to this country to make a better life. 

That isn’t true of the most reactionary parts of Trump’s white working-class base, though, and this administration knows it. They use anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions to buy their consent for policies that harm them -- things like tax cuts for the rich, starved government programs, and gutted environmental protections. You can see it perhaps most clearly at the US-Mexico border, where the Trump administration has issued 30 waivers of environmental laws in its quest to build the wall. The uprooted saguaros and miles of new roads through pristine wilderness areas attest: Trump’s war on immigrants has turned out to also be a war on fragile desert ecosystems, scarce water resources, and endangered species.

Thankfully, the Trump administration’s white supremacist politics are not only unpopular and under fire from the courts. They’re also facing mass opposition in the military, across the economy, and in the streets, where thousands of Black people and their allies have demanded an end to police brutality and racist criminal justice systems. We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. This country is rising up to say that now is the time to scrutinize the budgets of immigration enforcement and police, and rethink their roles, while centering the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. Now is the moment to make clear that we don’t want youth caged in prisons or immigrant detention centers. 

What we want -- and what we’re fighting for -- is justice, inclusion, and a brighter future for all our young people. And our movements, which set the stage for today’s ruling, are what make me believe that we will win. 

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