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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hearts break as Trump defers young immigrants’ dreams

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If you did not understand how pivotal Barack Obama’s actions were during his presidency, I am sure you understand now as the current administration works to scrap all that the former president accomplished.

President Donald Trump has several top agenda items that he is focusing on. Some of the items may be things he sincerely feels need to be addressed. Even more may be the result of favors he owes key people in his base for helping to get him elected. However, most of Trump’s top agenda items are a direct assault on Obama’s legacy. The former president reminded us of this time and time again throughout the past presidential campaign.

His warning has come to fruition many times during the past eight months. 

In the formative weeks and months of Trump’s presidency, I allowed myself to be surprised each time he struck a new low. But I am no longer surprised. As a matter of fact, I have come to expect such things from him, as his playbook is open for the world to observe. 

The president’s latest effort to repeal DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a gutless assault on innocent young people. About 800,000 youth and young adults, so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. by undocumented parents, are now in jeopardy of being deported back to their native land.

Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions cite increasing violence as their reasoning, saying: “Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.”

Their statement is grossly incorrect. As a matter of fact, Obama set immigration-enforcement priorities on people with criminal records, and not those brought to this country on as children. Data shows “about 9 in 10 (Dreamers) are working taxpayers, and deporting them could reduce the gross domestic product by over $400 billion over the next decade.”

DACA is a morally right and fiscally sound policy — not to mention, it is also legal! In addition, people and politicians on both sides of the political aisle support it, which we all know is something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

What breaks my heart just as much as the Dreamers being forced out of America is how their trust was violated. When Obama instituted DACA, tens of thousands of young people met strict requirements and went through background checks. They provided the government with all of their personal information including Social Security number and immigration status, with an assurance that the information wouldn’t be used against them or provided to immigration agencies.

The Dreamers are sad and scared. 

I had an opportunity to speak with a Dreamer the day after it was announced that DACA was being eliminated. I don’t know the woman personally, so naturally she was a bit hesitant to chat with me. After a mutual acquaintance assured her that I could be trusted, the Dreamer relaxed. Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t give her name, nor will I identify our mutual acquaintance. I will share some of her story here; more will come in the future, as she has agreed to speak with me again as well as introduce me to other Dreamers.

The woman I met is 21 years old. Despite being fairly young, she is married and has a small child. She didn’t go into detail during our initial conversation, but her husband “left Indy” and returned home to Burma a few months ago. She said he was scared once Trump got elected.

This Dreamer has always worked hard, but with her husband gone, she has to work two jobs. She worries about child care for her little one. While she has lots of Burmese friends who could watch the youngster, Mom believes that draws too much attention. She’d rather an American babysit her child. She thinks the child would be safer and less likely to be profiled if she were with an American. 

I asked the young woman how she feels about Trump ending DACA, and she immediately broke down crying. She cried a long, wailing cry that led me to cry as well. She couldn’t understand what she and others had done wrong. She kept asking “why.” She said she “follows the rules” and she “minds (her) own business.” Then she explained how worried she is for her own safety and the safety of her child if she is forced back to Burma.

This woman told me she used to have confidence, but now her confidence has turned to fear and skepticism. She says she feels “tricked,” because the government has all her information and they can “come get” her anytime they want. 

We ended our conversation with her explaining that she doesn’t know how to proceed. She doesn’t know if she should continue life as she has over the past several years, or if she should stop paying bills, live with a friend and save all her money in case she is sent back.

I didn’t have many answers for her. I told her she will be in my constant prayers and that I understand her feelings of disregard and abandonment. Blacks have felt that way for years. 

Perhaps Trump should have spoken to some Dreamers himself before deciding to end the program they based their lives around. 

Maybe it would have made a difference. Probably not. 

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