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.