Pun­ish me, not my com­mu­nity


I’m a “dreamer.” The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s list of de­mands it wants in ex­change for help­ing us makes me feel like a traitor. Among th­ese de­mands are: The ad­min­is­tra­tion wants a wall that will per­pet­u­ate di­vi­sion rather than grant­ing ac­tual se­cu­rity.

It wants fewer pro­tec­tions and faster de­por­ta­tion for child refugees of vi­o­lence from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

It wants a crack­down on cities that refuse to use po­lice of­fi­cers as im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, be­cause do­ing so fos­ters fear of those who are sup­posed to pro­tect and en­cour­ages racial pro­fil­ing.

In ex­change for grant­ing le­gal sta­tus for young peo­ple who have never known any coun­try but the United States, the ad­min­is­tra­tion wants us to agree to plac­ing a phys­i­cal bar­rier between us and our coun­tries of birth and peo­ple. To shut­ting the door on oth­ers who ar­rive as chil­dren just as we did. To shov­ing our par­ents back into the shad­ows of fear. The Amer­ica I know and love would never ask this of me in ex­change for her ac­cep­tance.

We are not more hu­man than other im­mi­grants be­cause we are called “dream­ers.” All that sets us apart is that, thanks to the soon-to-ex­pire De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Arrivals pro­gram, we’ve been able to share our sto­ries for a time with­out the fear of de­por­ta­tion. If only the voices of big­otry would go silent long enough to hear the whis­pered sto­ries of the 11 mil­lion still-shad­owed lives.

We have done noth­ing more than try to con­trib­ute to the na­tion we love. Why must our com­mu­ni­ties be “pun­ished” for Re­pub­li­can elected of­fi­cials to feel bet­ter about “help­ing” us? Let me pay the fine, let me risk my se­cu­rity by ad­vo­cat­ing pub­licly, let me bear the bur­den of this bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, not my com­mu­nity. I’ll do it all if it means I get to call the United States home.

We refuse to bar­gain at the cost of other marginal­ized peo­ple. Pass­ing a clean Dream Act would en­rich our coun­try by build­ing our work­force, im­prov­ing our econ­omy and strength­en­ing us all as one na­tion un­der God. That is all we seek. The writer is a grad­u­ate stu­dent at South­east­ern Univer­sity and an im­mi­gra­tion rights ac­tivist.

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