Dreamers Are As American As Apple Pie

The American dream will lose all credibility if we deny it to those who worked so hard to achieve it.
09/06/2017 08:06 am ET Updated Sep 07, 2017
Susan Melkisethian/Flickr

When I was a kid, my family traveled to Ocean City, Maryland, every summer. The drive was long and the beach was hot as hell. If it had been up to me, we would have flown to Disney World. But at age 7 or 9 or 10, I had no choice. I simply had to suck it up and sit in the back of our van listening to Celine Dion cassette tapes until we arrived where I would then pout the entire week.

Even at age 15, when my mother and stepfather decided we were going to Cooks Forest in backwoods Pennsylvania to sleep in a rickety cabin where I ended up getting pneumonia and a nasty rash, I had no say. My elders made my decisions for me and that was that.

How much say did you have over outings and major life decisions when you were a child? My guess is zero. So why do people want to punish children brought to the U.S. when they had absolutely no say over it?

Why do people want to punish children brought to the U.S. when they had absolutely no say over it?

With President Trump nixing the Obama-era DACA program, he is telling these more than 800,000 students and workers that they did something wrong, that they deserve to live in the shadows, that they might be deported to countries that are completely foreign to them because America is the only home they know.

These Dreamers are as American as apple pie. They’ve been living here, going to school, working, and paying taxes just like me. They have built families and careers. They have made friends and have given back via community service. If anything, they are more deserving of citizenship than I am.

What did I do to earn my American status? Nothing. I just happened to win the geographical lottery. Dreamers, on the other hand, have to pay upwards of $1,000 to renew their DACA status every two years. They also undergo a vetting process involving lots of paperwork and background checks.

They have proven how much love and patriotism they have for this nation by going through these arduous steps. Many of them even sacrifice their own lives for others who were born right here on American soil.

Jesus Contreras, a paramedic in Houston, worked six days straight last week during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey to rescue people from their flooded homes. He is a Dreamer, and he is a hero who supposedly Donald Trump believes is not deserving of the same respect and dignity every other worker gets, or at least should get.

The most heroic thing I’ve ever done is go three days without eating pizza.

These are human beings. They aren’t statistics. But even from a statistical, economic standpoint, it makes no sense to purge them from this nation. Dreamers pay over $2 billion each year in state and federal taxes, boosting revenue for the entire country. The nation as a whole has benefited greatly from them being here and losing them will do nothing but harm.

We love blaming black and brown people, especially those from outside our borders, for our problems here in America.

Ending DACA is explained only by racism and scapegoating. We love blaming black and brown people, especially those from outside our borders, for our problems here in America. Looking inward and at our own systemic flaws is apparently too much a burden for us. It’s easier instead to point our fingers elsewhere.

But we will have absolutely no one to blame but ourselves if we allow this program to end. Steel mills aren’t going to magically pop up out of nowhere if we kick out Dreamers. Coal isn’t going to come back. Terrorism isn’t going to end. The Kardashians will still be around.

We need to look at this through a compassionate as well as a common sense lens. What power did you have at age 2? What kind of influence did you have over your parents at age 6? If you were in these Dreamers’ shoes, how would you feel being told your life is worth less than others simply because of where and when you were born?

The American dream will lose all credibility if we deny it to those who worked so hard to achieve it. We must stand up and demand that Congress take action to preserve it for all Americans.

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