Trump snatches away the Dream
Following a brief tweet from President Trump and an icy press conference by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday morning, a long weekend of fear and uncertainty turned into six more months of trepidation for the nation’s estimated 1.8 million DREAMers and their families, of whom approximately 800,000 had been protected from the threat of deportation under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Sessions confirmed is now rescinded.
In a move seen as a thinly veiled attempt to have his cake and eat it too, Trump has ended DACA but placed a six-month hold on enforcing any related actions, saying in an early morning tweet, “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” Trump can now claim to have kept his promise to his ultra-right wing, anti-immigrant base by ending President Obama’s executive action while showing he has “a big heart” by providing a narrow window for a bill to be passed by a deeply divided legislative body that has proved itself unable to do so since the first DREAM Act was introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Orin Hatch (R-Utah) back in 2001.
Immigrant advocacy groups across the nation and here in Oklahoma were quick to react. The Coalition for the American Dream (ADC) issued a statement just after Sessions’ formally announced the end of DACA, saying it, “deeply regrets the president’s decision to end a program that has had such a huge positive impact, not just on the lives of the young people directly affected, but also on the economy and our society as a whole.”
“DACA…represents the best of what we can be as a country,” the statement continued, “and it is the ADC’s fervent hope that Congress will act quickly to implement a permanent solution to end the peril about to be faced by 800,000 Dreamers (6,900 of them in Oklahoma). Brought here as children, this is the only home, the only country they know and love, and all they are asking for is the right to use their talents and passion to help America realize its full potential.”
The move is regarded as a victory for the vehemently anti-immigrant Sessions as well as his acolyte, Stephen Miller, now a senior Trump advisor. Ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon had kept Trump from taking this decision earlier, seeing the DREAMers as necessary pawns in a greater game, or in Bannon’s own words as reported by NPR, “as a strategic asset in the coming immigration policy battles.”
Former President Barack Obama, who until now has been largely silent as his successor has worked to undermine and unravel numerous key achievements of his administration, could hold his tongue no longer.
“These DREAMers are Americans I their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said on Tuesday. “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.”
Tulsa resident Rosa Hernandez is one of the DREAMers whose life stands to be affected by Trump’s decision. Hernandez shared her reaction to the news with La Semana.
“My initial reaction, surprisingly, wasn’t one of fear,” Hernandez said. “I was prepared to do anything in my power to counter his decision. I’ve lived here my whole life, I know my rights and the law. I’m not afraid anymore.”
Hernandez explained that the DACA program has been a major relief for her family, and has allowed her to drive without fear of what happens if she were to be pulled over, and to pursue higher education so she could “reach dreams that had seemed like I could never achieve.”
And while prepared to fight, she remains optimistic about the future.
“I am confident that congress will stand on the right side of history” Hernandez told La Semana, “and give Dreamers the opportunity we seek to contribute to America, as Americans, because that is all we've ever known ourselves to be.”
In the weeks and months ahead, La Semana will be closely following the lives, struggles, and successes of local DREAMers as they work through the difficult times to come. If you would like your story told, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . (La Semana)