Yesterday, Donald Trump made another decision to shake up our Great Nation (is it "great again" yet?) by repealing DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as the DREAMer act—the program that gives hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents who came here as young children, largely due to their parents, exemption from deportation. Nearly 800,000 DREAMers will be subject to forcible removal from this country—the country they know as their home, and for many, the only home they've ever known—because of Trump's decision to remove the protections offered by Obama's 2012 executive order.
Despite all his bluster about "putting American citizens first," this is, in reality, the most un-American thing Trump and his administration could do.
A survey (opens in new tab) conducted by the University of California, San Diego, shows that 97 percent of all DACA enrollees are employed or enrolled in school. Aren't those exactly the kinds of hard-working people this country wants? And to put a finer financial point on it, ending the program could cost the U.S. economy $460 billion (opens in new tab) in lost GDP over the next decade. Trump's reasoning for the transgender ban in the military was to save money, right? Yeah, that could conserve—in the highest, most extreme case (opens in new tab)—$8.4 million. (Oh and P.S. let's talk about how much we'd save the economy if, you know, POTUS stayed in the White House like pretty much every other president. We'll spare you the click (opens in new tab): It's close to $15 million.)
[pullquote align='C']97 percent of all DACA enrollees are employed or enrolled in school.[/pullquote]
If you're thinking I'm for reformed immigration policy, and, well, at least Trump is starting to work towards it—one quick thing working against your rationale: DACA was always supposed to be a stop-gap. DACA was not, and is not, a path towards citizenship, but rather a way for those who have made their homes in the U.S. since they were small children to be given some protections under the law; to be able to work legally, drive legally, enroll in school, and not be deported. The hope was that a broader immigration reform bill would be established to help create a path of legalization (opens in new tab). Trump ending DACA, without a plan for the future, is just bad policy, to say the least. (And does it remind you of anything else he wanted to do away with without a good plan in place (opens in new tab)? Anybody?)
So what's Trump's reasoning for this particular decision? According to his statement, it's because we are a nation of laws. "Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first," he wrote. Ah, yes, because American jobs have long been taken by undocumented (and documented) immigrants, right? Wrong. This is what we do best—exploit immigrants with cheap wages for jobs Americans won't take, and then demonize them for it.
[pullquote align='C']This is what we do best—exploit immigrants with cheap wages for jobs Americans won't take, then demonize them for it.[/pullquote]
We can debate the constitutionality of DACA. We can talk about how there should be broader immigration reform. But at the end of the day, this comes down to racism and who Trump thinks he's garnering favor with. As Obama notes (opens in new tab), this decision was not a required legal action. This was a specific choice made for a very specific reason. As a Hoosier with a white mother who has ties to Tennessee and a Mexican-American father with ties to Texas, smiling and nodding at xenophobic and racist rhetoric is a subtle art that I've perfected; a survivalist tactic for passing. I'm no stranger to what some white people say when they think they're out of earshot. But Trump has gone further—here's a man who uses political decisions to endear himself to one side of the moral equation while under the guise of "law." Is it the law that called for this, Trump? No—we already had one in place.
This action comes down to Trump's fatal flaw—he just wants to be liked. And the most recent vocal pro-Trump constituency? Racists (opens in new tab). With this decision, he gets the best of both worlds—he's put the hard task to Congress and he's appeased anti-immigration hardliners. He's applauded by those who see America as a nation that has become too brown. Forget that these protections help our own economy. Forget that they guarantee that people who have long made their homes here won't be deported to a land they've never known. Forget that our entire nation was predicated upon the idea that those seeking opportunity and freedom could find it here.
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Maybe. But only the right types of masses.
Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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