It’s not just mean, cruel and counterproductive. President Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA is also harmful – to the young people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals rules and every citizen of our nation.
His decision follows Trump’s repugnant trend of demonizing immigrants.
We saw it first in Trump’s outlandishly xenophobic statements during the campaign; it took the form of policy in July when the Pentagon’s immigrant recruitment program was forced into dormancy. Designed under President George W. Bush, immigrants with specific expertise – in medicine, engineering, computers and languages – were allowed to join our military. The program has allowed hundreds of competent, dedicated and, yes, patriotic people to serve our country – often in harm’s way. No longer.
Now Trump has targeted 800,000 Dreamers.
As one Oakdale reader put it: “After the DACA decision, it’s time to pull down the Statue of Liberty.”
President Obama also had choice words: “To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.”
Obama created the program by executive order in 2012 after Congress failed to act. Young people, who often arrived as toddlers, were told if they registered, checked in every two years and paid biannual fees, they could stay and participate in society. They put their faith in a process they fervently hoped could lead them to the greatest prize – American citizenship.
Their diligence and faith is being repaid with cynicism and rejection.
In targeting Dreamers, Trump isn’t chasing away criminals – as his proxy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, insinuated. He’s chasing the children of our neighbors; the kids we see in pizza shops, swimming pools and at church. These are the kids who trusted us.
With an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 living in his district, Rep. Jeff Denham’s support of Dreamers is very real. In 2014, he bucked his party when the Republican majority tried to kill the DACA program. Last month, he and five other Republican representatives sent a letter to the president imploring him not to end DACA.
Trump ignored Denham, as he did all other voices of reason and compassion including Paul Ryan, John McCain and Orrin Hatch. And why not? Trump pays no penalty for ignoring Denham, et al.
Like other Republicans, Denham had his chances to put blame were it belongs Tuesday but failed.
In an appearance on NPR, Denham stood up for Dreamers but blamed Obama for having tried to help them in the first place – an inexplicable contradiction of his 2014 vote.
Then, in a prepared statement, Denham decried Trump’s action, saying, “The government asked these young men and women to come out of the shadows and they have passed background checks, opened bank accounts, gotten jobs, enrolled in our universities – all positive contributions to our society and economy. To target them now is wrong.”
Strong words and true, but Denham refused to blame the one man responsible for making the Dreamers targets – Donald Trump.
Jeff Denham did not betray the Dreamers. But until enough people like Denham stand up to this scheming, self-centered, xenophobic president, Trump will have no cause to regret any harm he causes.
Trump isn’t just harming Dreamers; he’s also harming our nation.