DACA and the Loss of Innocence

Donald Trump has rescinded DACA fulfilling a campaign pledge.  He has given six months before the protections for Dreamers are revoked.  He has  placed  the responsibility on Congress to come up with a bill that will protect those he has intentionally put in harms way.

Obviously this is a politically calculated move.  By placing the ball in Congress’ court he seeks to wash his hands of a decision to revoke protections for 800,000 young people.  Their only offense is that they were brought here as children by parents fleeing poverty and violence.

DACA (Defered Action for Childhood Arrivals) was put in place by executive order by President Obama only after Republicans sabotaged efforts for bipartisan immigration reform.  That President Trump has put the future of 800,000 young people in the hands of a Republican controlled Congress, while saying that he ‘has a heart for the Dreamers’ is hypocrisy on steroids.

Hosea, a biblical prophet spoke into a time when his nations leaders had turned from God’s heart for the poor and vulnerable: ‘One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord, because they have broken my covenant, and transgressed my law. How long will they be incapable of innocence?’ ~ Hosea 8: 1, 5

800,000 young people who work and go to school within six months will be a risk of deportation.   I can imagine what the prophet Hosea would say to us today.


As a college trustee I have the privilege of getting to know Dreamers.  They are remarkable young women and men who have overcome great obstacles.  Many have excelled academically and as leaders on campus and in the wider community.  They dream of being teachers, nurses, physicians, engineers, accountants.  They dream of raising families and doing good.

A psychologist will tell you that good mental health is dependent on there being hope.  Mr. Trump and his supporters have coldly chosen to say that the hopes and dreams of 800,000 are not important.  By this act Trump and his minions have sought to rob young people of their innocence.

Will we as a nation stand for this?  Polls show that 80% of citizens want DACA to continue.  Will we allow the nativist, anti-immigrant rhetoric of Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and Breitbart News to determine who we are and what we will become as a nation?

Several years ago senators Dick Durbin a Democrat and Orrin Hatch a Republican came together to sponsor the Dream Act which would provide many of the safeguards of DACA.  That bill failed by five votes.

It is time for a new Dream Act to be voted on by Congress.  No game playing.  No packing a bill with $ to fund Donald Trumps wall in Mexico.

Today Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsay Graham are  promoting a new Dream Act http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/news/under-daca-deadline-durbin-graham-begin-push-for-dream-act/vp-AArlXng  Such initiatives are worthy of our support.

It is up to us as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable in the name of simple decency.  It is time for people of conscience to stand up for the sake of those among us who are most vulnerable.  All our young people ask for is the opportunity to pursue their dreams.   What is more American than that?

Immigrants, Refugees and Undocumented, Oh My!

‘Immigrants, Refugees and Undocumented, Oh My!’  Grabbing a line from the Wizard of Oz we are living in a troubling time.  Especially if you are a new immigrant or refugee and God help you if you’re undocumented.

Using a time-tested technique, President Trump and minions play the  anti-immigrant fear card to advance their political agenda.  But this is nothing new.

“New immigration” was a term from the late 1880s that came from the influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Italy and Russia (areas that previously sent few immigrants).

Nativists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_(politics) feared the new arrivals lacked the political, social, and occupational skills needed to successfully assimilate into American culture. This raised the issue of whether the U.S. was still a “melting pot,” or if it had just become a “dumping ground,” and many old-stock Americans worried about negative effects on the economy, politics, and culture.

 Immigration 1930 to 2000:

Restriction proceeded piecemeal over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but immediately after the end of World War I (1914–18) and into the early 1920s, Congress changed the nation’s basic policy about immigration.

The National Origins Formula of 1921 (and its final form in 1924) not only restricted the number of immigrants who might enter the United States, but also assigned slots according to quotas based on national origins. It essentially gave preference to immigrants from Central, Northern and Western Europe, severely limiting the numbers from Russia and Southern Europe, Africa and declared all potential immigrants from Asia unworthy of entry into the United States.

Underneath it all was a desire by those already here to keep America as they knew it.  Essentially ‘white’.

This specter of racism and fear of ‘the other’ has been a reoccurring theme in American history and is once again being played for all its worth by ‘nativist’ like President Trump, advisor Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The antidote of course is building relationships with immigrants, refugees and undocumented neighbors.  In the past two weeks:  An undocumented refugee from Congo (who fled a war) walked into my office to ask me to pray with him.  He spoke of his fear of being deported, separating him from his wife and two-year old son (both of whom are US citizens).

I spoke with a young couple from Brazil who are here on a temporary visa but want to stay and take care of her ailing father who is a US citizen.  And, while my car was being serviced I spoke with a young legal immigrant from Egypt who pumped my gas.  He told me of ongoing insults shouted by passing motorists, calling him a ‘f***ing towel head’ and ‘go back where you belong’.

Such are the stories of  immigrants and refugees that are our neighbors.  ‘Nativists’ would have us believe that they are to be feared, that they are not like ‘us’.

The problem however, is that I’ve gotten to know their names.  Listened to their stories.  Discovered that they want the same things you and I want.  Safety and opportunity.  Their family to be healthy and happy.

Despite  prejudice and hateful rhetoric immigrants and refugees still see the United States as a refuge a place to make dreams come true.  They see what is best in us as a nation…even when we forget.

What is needed is meaningful immigration reform. Something that Congress has resisted since last initiated by Ronald Reagan.

What is needed is the wisdom of a Moses:

‘Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for once you too were foreigners in Egypt.” ~ Exodus 22:21