President Trump’s State of the Union speech on Jan. 30 proposed a compromise — stringent immigration regulations seemingly in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, prompting Trump to remind the audience that “Americans are dreamers too.”
When the “Black Lives Matter” movement picked up stride, other movements sprouted up in its wake, including “All Lives Matter.” While I don’t endorse or denounce the Black Lives Matter movement, I recognize the right for it to exist without all-inclusive movements such as All Lives Matter threatening its significance. The problem with movements such as All Lives Matter — and dubbing all Americans dreamers — is that it eliminates the focus of the initial statements.
We did not need to point out that all lives matter, because that was an understood assumption — it was black lives in particular that were being threatened and needed the extra attention. As one witty post at the time pointed out, when you are first place in Mario Kart, you don’t receive the chance for extra tokens. The teams that are trailing behind are the ones that need the extra boost to get ahead and hopefully catch-up. In an ideal world, there would not be any winners in terms of race, gender and sexuality — we would all be on equal-playing fields. But this isn’t an ideal world.
Of course, Americans are dreamers. That is an understood assumption. But it’s time we recognized Dreamers as Americans.
America is a land of immigrants, of diversity. That is what makes us great — all the vantage points, perspectives, unique minds challenging each other. And the Dreamers who have been allowed into the nation have contributed to the richness and diversification that helps this land to flourish.
Julia Glum for “Newsweek” broke down DACA by numbers in an article from late August. She quoted a Center for American Progress survey that estimated 90-percent of DACA recipients had jobs, while around 72 percent were in higher education. Due to DACA, 80 percent of respondents received drivers licenses, with roughly half of them becoming organ donors. Without DACA, about 700,000 people could lose their jobs, causing the U.S. to lose about $460 billion in GDP over the next 10 years, according to the Center for American Progress.
In a Sept. 14 article for “The Guardian,” Joanna Walters explores the program that permits temporary protection to undocumented migrants who have arrived in American as youth. Attorney general Jeff Sessions estimated that nearly 800,000 people would have their lives upended if the US ended DACA.
“In addition to immigration advocates and most Democratic politicians, a majority of national politicians in the Republican party reportedly did not want Trump to scrap DACA, including such prominent figures as House speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona senator John McCain,” Walters writes, pointing out that the issue is not just Democrats vs. Republicans.
During a recent immigration meeting with senators and House members, Trump said “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” The aforementioned countries were in apparent reference to immigrants from places such as El Salvador, Haiti and Africa being protected under DACA program preservation.
Many of us are Americans because we were fortunate enough to be born into this country. Perhaps we, or our ancestors, have worked to the bone, braved combat and fought for the rights to be a proud American citizen. But there was a degree of luck likely involved — we were fortunate enough to be born in a time and place where our freedom is protected. And that is a right we should extend to others, regardless of their less than ideal backgrounds that they likely had no control over.
Website Global Citizen recognizes a number of immigrants who have helped shape America. These famous people include Albert Einstein, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, blue jeans founder Levi Strauss, NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, female entrepreneur Liz Claiborne, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, famed designed Oscar de la Renta, former Yankee great Mariano Rivera and actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger —among many others.
Dreamers are Americans and Americans are dreamers. There is enough space for us to all be great. The world is changing. With booming populations, everyone is in fierce competition to achieve greatness, success, or at the very least financial stability. But rather than draw lines and fight our neighbors, we can recognize the right for our fellow citizens and immigrants to work their way towards life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know.