President Trump’s latest attack on the Latino community just occurred around policy regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which will be rescinded in six months barring Congressional action. Mr. Trump’s abhorrent move is yet another way to placate his base by using race/ethnicity as a divisive issue.
This pattern of vilifying the Latino community started the day Mr. Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015. In that announcement speech, Mr. Trump stated of Mexico, “They’re sending us not the right people.” That pejorative comment was followed with incessant talks of “a wall” and other negative stereotypes of Latinos. What could initially be construed as mere symbols are now translating to federal policy that could prove detrimental to the Latino immigrant community for years to come.
We all need to be prepared for Mr. Trump’s next attack, as this pattern will clearly continue while he holds the office of the presidency. It is imperative to seize this opportunity to create solid leadership — which must include the involvement of all concerned community members — to stand strong in the face of such destructive policies.
Sadly, many of these new policies run counter to the gains made during the Obama administration, including DACA. Back in 2012, President Obama asked Congress to make the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act the law of the land. When the nation’s legislative body failed to pass the bill, Mr. Obama was compelled to do the moral thing: He signed an executive order that created a pathway to citizenship for young adults who are our fellow students, coworkers and neighbors. This was genesis of the DACA program. These young people have over time come to be known by an aspirational term: Dreamers.
Most Dreamers were brought to this country by their parents, who were escaping violence, political hostility or abject poverty and were in search of a better life — the promise of the American Dream. The families’ children have only known the United States as their home.
As Mr. Obama stated of the Dreamers: “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
It is unconscionable to tell Dreamers — who have attained college and graduate degrees, enlisted in the military and work hard each day — that they must go back to a country they do not even know. A place where they may not even speak the language. A place where they would feel more like a tourist.
It is un-American — and immoral — to put forth a plan, watch people do what is expected and then annul their possibility of reaching the promised goal. Such a broken promise would be a travesty not just for almost 800,000 Dreamers, but for our entire nation.
It is bad economic policy if our Dreamer population was no longer able to be part of our job force. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, $460.3 billion in economic output would be lost over the next decade, with Medicare and Social Security contributions dropping by $24.6 billion.
At MEDA, we have had the privilege to work with amazing young Dreamers who aspire to launch careers in the tech and financial sectors, and who are the next generation of community leaders. Our organization will take proactive steps to ensure these talented Latino community members can still attain the American Dream.
MEDA vows to:
- Stand staunchly by our community in these times.
- Organize our constituents to meet the current challenges facing our community.
- Continue to offer opportunity to Dreamers and their families, especially assistance with small-business development and affordable housing.
- Advocate for resources to strengthen Dreamers and their families.
You should vow to:
- Contact Congress and request that they immediately act to protect immigrant youth through the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017. (Find your representative.)
- Demonstrate to make your voice heard singly and communally.
- Share your perspective on matters of importance to the Latino immigrant community.
- Vote in every election.
We must work together to stand as one and stay focused so as to best combat the continued assault on our Latino immigrant community.