On the streets of Philly and the avenues of Flatbush, on the Southside of Chicago to L.A. Central, from San Antonio to St. Paul and all the small and big towns in-between, every rural route, and in every ZIP code they are present but not yet accounted for. They come in every shape, size, color, and accent. They mostly speak English, sometimes a little broken. They are Americans. They are DACA, our “Dreamers,” and they are ready to lead.
In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order titled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protected unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the US as minors from being deported. When the law was signed into law, nearly 826,000 “Dreamers” officially became Americans. They may not be aware of every line of our founding documents, but they call our nation home, cherish our democratic ideals, and know the idea of “We the People.”
Sooner or later, someone will apply a clever title of this generation. I’d prefer Gen-T. They are tolerant and tough, aware and smart. While many on the right tend to assume Dreamers would instinctually vote for the Democrats if given the power to vote, they are much more complicated. Through my work as the founder of Dialogues in Democracy, I’ve come to see them as mostly centrists – moderates that see through the nonsense and will not accept conspiracy in camouflage in the halls of Congress. Admittedly, I have no hard statistics to support this fact, but the 2020 election proved that the Hispanic-American population is not a monolith and can support both sides of the aisle.
That being said, I’ve come to see Dreamers as very socially progressive. They could care less who somebody chooses to love. They care about preserving and protecting our planet and combating climate change. They cringe with how racial injustice and the lack of fairness in economic opportunity is pervasive in a nation of laws and wealth.
They are tolerant because they, too, have been prosecuted in their own way. Before Obama signed DACA, they were branded as illegal aliens without ever know living elsewhere. Then, when Trump was in the White House, he tried to roll back the program, but was ultimately stopped by the Supreme Court that called his efforts “arbitrary and capricious.”
Now imagine, if you will, these Dreamers waiting in the wings in a hypothetical theatre. As of August 2018, approximately 700,000 DACA recipients are living in the United States, according to USCIS. They are assembling behind the curtain waiting to open.
Today, their future hangs in jeopardy as Congress aims to revisit the status of the Dreamers. Since the Supreme Court ruling, many civil rights groups have been lobbying for a means for the Dreamers to stay permanently, while right-wing groups want their temporary status revoked. Last night, President Biden announced that he would revisit a systematic overhaul of the US immigration, which would include a path to U.S citizenship for the Dreamers.
No doubt, many Dreamers have already made an opportunity to make positive change. Their stories are in the new every day – going on to become lawyers, doctors, and other public servants. Even last night at President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress, there was Javier Quiroz Castro, a DACA recipient who has been working at the frontlines of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, their role models have left a lot to be desired. Much but not all the elected class has gamed the system into gridlock. A bipartisan group of 14 senators — five Republicans and nine Democrats — have been working behind the scenes to craft an immigration compromise that addresses the border security priorities important to Republicans with a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and dreamers.
If this metaphorical curtain rises, and Dreamers can attain a pathway to citizenship, America would have taken a step in the right direction and held up the will of our Founding Fathers who made our nation a land for the tired, poor, and huddled masses. These Dreamers never had a choice to come to the U.S., but now that they are here, they should be welcomed with open arms.
Our nation may feel sometimes like it is going through the Dark Ages of Democracy – with both sides of the political aisle constantly warring against each other. However, he must continue the fight for the rights that these DACA recipients deserve. A worthy quote comes from social- anthropologist Margaret Meade: “Never doubt, that a group of committed, thoughtful citizens can change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has.”