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The Dreamers of Justice

Published on December 14th, 2017 at 12:39 pm

By Kyle Lee

In late 2012, during his first term in office, President Barack Obama used his power to issue an executive order called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy that allowed people who had entered America illegally as small children to legally remain in the country. DACA allowed these people – many who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at very young ages when they had no opportunity to say no – to “come out of the shadows” and live normal lives, giving them the ability to do such normal pursuits such as attending college or holding a legal job. Only people who had never been committed of a serious crime were eligible for DACA status. However, in the fall of 2017, President Trump announced that his administration would be rescinding DACA, plunging this group of immigrants back into the unknown, despite the fact that the program is popular among most Americans. This decision is an outrage. DACA is a just program that gives American status to people who are American in almost every way but one: they were not born here. The bold uses of ethos, pathos, and logos help to solidify the positive good of DACA.

For a moment, put aside the ethical, moral, and compassionate aspects of the DACA program – it makes no logical sense to repeal DACA. President Trump and his anti-immigration Attorney General, Jeff Sessions claim that DACA recipients take jobs from Americans, and commit crimes at a higher rate than people who were legally born in the United States. Both of these claims are easily proved false. According to an article in Fortune magazine, “While economists rarely agree on much, immigration has found a rare near-consensus among the profession…In a poll, a whopping 95% of economists who answered through that the average American would be better off with more immigrants” (Harris, 1). Immigrants lead to innovation, and lower costs throughout the economy, on everything from groceries to the cost of child care (Harris, 1). Also, immigrants are not simply workers, they are also consumers. According to economists John McLaren and Gihoon Hong, “every immigrant to the U.S. creates 1.2 new jobs – almost all going to U.S. citizens” (Harris, 1). Plus, the U.S. would be kicking DACA recipients out at the worst possible time economically speaking. As the LA Times Editorial Board points out: “From a cost-benefit standpoint, American school districts have invested in these children, just as they have in U.S. citizens” (LA Times Editorial Board, 1). These are technically immigrants, but they are also highly skilled fluent English speakers, many with college degrees. Even the Mexican foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, seemed confused by the decision, stating, “I don’t know of any country that is willing to ship doctors, accountants, and lawyers to another country…That’s just a transfer in human capital…it would be a big loss to the U.S. economy in particular” (Simmons, 1)

Of course, this is not simply an argument about economics, it is an argument about what is right and what is wrong. It is simply not ethical to blame someone for a decision he or she had no part in making; five, six, and seven year-old children go wherever their parents go, and grow up wherever their parents live. As the LA Times Editorial Board stated, “It would be an act of pure cruelty,” to send 800,000 people back to home countries they can barely remember “as a result of decisions made by their parents” (1). DACA recipients are not “criminals,” they are Americans. “What public good is achieved by yanking such people from their homes, families, and communities, and sending them to countries where they are strangers and often don’t even speak the language?” (LA Times Editorial Board, 1) The Trump administration argues that DACA recipients are threats to public safety, and that the program itself was created illegally, but the New York Times editorial board quickly rebuts these assertions, noting, “DACA recipients…must have a nearly spotless record to be eligible in the first place…As for the policy’s legality, there’s no question that the president has the authority to set immigration-enforcement priorities” (1).

If someone still is not convinced by the logical or ethical arguments, then stop imagining DACA recipients as a statistics, and start imagining them as what they really are: American young adults trying to make something of their lives. Young men and women like Antonio Cisnero, who, according to the LA Times, was born n Acapulco and is “studying at Cal State L.A. for a career in biomedical engineering.” Or Jesus Contreras, who “arrived in the U.S. from Mexico when he was 6…and spent last week doing his job in Houston – as a paramedic helping save people from flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey” (LA Times Editorial Board, 1). In an article called “American Dreamers,” the New York Times gathered the stories of many DACA recipients. Perhaps no one’s words were more touching or to the point than a Texas-based artist named Fidencio Fifilo Perez, who holds three advanced degrees despite a high school teacher who told him that “People like you don’t go to college.” He writes about standing in front of the television and weeping as Obama signed the initial DACA executive order, knowing that the act could make such a difference in the lives of so many people. His whole life he had been afraid of deportation; DACA changed everything. “I could drive and work without fear…I began showing my work nationally and internationally…I instructed and befriended your children; I was your partner. Are these words enough for you to acknowledge my existence or my humanity? The moment I was smuggled into this country at the age of seven, my body ceased to be my own” (Perez, 1).

“Dreamers” are Americans in every way but one: legally. They speak English, were educated in American schools, and dream of contributing the America’s society and economy. As even Mexico’s foreign secretary knows, “America would lose if DACA recipients are forced out.”

Works Cited

Harris, Benjamin. “Why Your Economic Argument Against Immigration is Probably Wrong.” Fortune. Sep. 11, 2017.

LA Times Editorial Board. “Ending DACA was an act of pure cruelty by Trump.” LA Times. Sep. 5, 2017.

New York Times Editorial Board. “Donald Trump’s Cowardice on Dreamers.” New York Times. Sep. 5, 2017

Perez, Fidencio. “American Dreamers.” New York Times. Sep. 10, 2017.

Simmons, Ann M. “America would lose if DACA recipients are forced out.” LA Times. Sep. 14, 2017.