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Will Trump Feed ‘Dreamers’ To The Wolves?

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Will Trump Feed ‘Dreamers’ To The Wolves?

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Did you notice who was peering over the shoulder of a well-behaved Donald Trump on Thursday as he sat beside President Barack Obama following their transition meeting?

A bust of Martin Luther King Jr.

Obama added the King sculpture to the Oval Office during his first term. What a perfect image for a wary nation. A martyr to the nation’s painful struggles for inclusion and fairness is watching.

America, too, has its eyes trained on Trump. We’re seeking clues as to how he might turn from the bombast of his campaign to attitudes more appropriate for governance. The toned-down, conciliatory Trump of recent days may be starting to grasp just how foolhardy most of his promises were. Or so we can hope.

Constructing a fabled wall at the U.S.-Mexico border is unfeasible and would require Congress to authorize the funding. Hard realities impinge on the flights of fancy.

Ditto for upending the Affordable Care Act. Congress and the Trump administration can pick away at it here and there, but to repeal it outright will require crafting a replacement. Blowing up the North American Free Trade Agreement and shaking down NATO allies will cause unintended and unpleasant consequences. The self-branded master dealmaker has his work cut out.

Much of this Trump surely understands. He knew he was shoveling slogans to voters. It sounded so appeasing to those whose grasp on middle-class existence was slipping.

But Trump will want to deliver … something. In his first days in office, he’ll need to throw a tasty morsel to supporters, something to prove that he’s still their man.

The easiest group to cast into that den will be the young people flourishing under Obama’s executive action on immigration.

More than 740,000 immigrants have benefited from the 4-year-old program known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

These young people epitomize the American dream. These are the “Dreamers,” children whose parents brought them to the country, some as toddlers and infants. They grew up fluent in English, as immersed in American culture as any child, desiring to chase their dreams with the rest of us. Many only discover that they lack immigration status when they go through teenage rites of passage, such as applying for a driver’s license or seeking a first job.

DACA isn’t a permanent fix. It merely offers a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation and the chance to work legally for those who qualify through a lengthy application vetted under the Department of Homeland Security.

With the flick of a hand, President Trump could do away with it. The optics will be great — or horrible, depending on who you are.

Work permits would suddenly be nullified, forcing young people to go into the “informal” economy. Students would drop out of college. Dreams would be crushed — the dreams of people who are essentially blameless in their predicaments.

Of course, Trump might choose to crush their dreams slowly, by denying renewals of status, rather than making a big show of it all at once.

Advocates are warning those who have not yet applied for DACA to weigh the risks of doing so. Not having a traceable address, fingerprints, photo and other data in government files might be preferable later, if threatened deportations ramp up under a Trump administration. So this maneuver would increase a hidden, undocumented population.

Administrations have always set priorities for who is targeted for deportation, with most of the emphasis wisely on violent criminals. Obama reached out with DACA for these young people as a last-ditch effort when Congressional gridlock killed the hope for immigration reform.

Studies have shown that once their presence is lawful, DACA recipients tend to find better-paying jobs, which means they contribute more to the tax base and drive economic growth. They also focus on college, as about 20 states allow them the opportunity to pay in-state tuition fees.

This is a just and enlightened policy. This group once drew bipartisan sympathy and compassion. Sen. John McCain was an early, persistent voice for them.

Even Donald Trump must be capable of recognizing DACA’s merits. But will he? Or will he see the opportunity to look tough to his nativist base — an easy way to mollify them before his whole platform of undeliverable promises is exposed for the sham it is?

No matter what happens, realize that these young people don’t long for foreign countries they never considered home. They are Americans by spirit, if not by paperwork. If a Trump presidential decree forces them to rejoin the undocumented class, they’ll have to take it.

One thing is for sure. Targeting them will constitute a potshot action, a blow to our once-vaunted commitments to fairness and opportunity.

Mary Sanchez: 816-234-4752, msanchez@kcstar.com, @msanchezcolumn

IMAGE: U.S.  President Barack Obama (R) meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez has spent years covering immigration, schools, and other volatile beats for The Kansas City Star. She is now an editorial columnist for the Star, where she continues to offer insightful commentary on immigration, culture, and politics.

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13 Comments

  1. Mama Bear November 13, 2016

    “Enlightened”….I was struck by the word the author used. I cannot help but wonder if history will call the years 2008-2016 “The Age of Enlightenment” just before the Neo Dark age began.

    Reply
    1. Oddworld November 13, 2016

      I wouldn’t categorize the last eight years as “The Age of Enlightenment”, but it certainly was a respite from “The Age of Lunacy” to which we may now be descending.

  2. CripesAmighty November 13, 2016

    Oh, yeah. And judging from the malevolent menagerie that appears to be under consideration to run his cabinet–a collection of religious zealots, police-state enthusiasts, Wall Street predators, alt-right propogandists and grifters–if you’re anyone but the rich, you’re next.
    Black, latino, muslim, women, gays, students are next. And yes, poor white folks–while giving you phyrric satisfaction pounding the ‘others’, before you know it you’ll find out that these con artists have found their mark, and it is you. And you’ll have only the fat, red face in the mirror to blame.

    Reply
  3. Jon November 13, 2016

    Given that Trump has never had a commitment to fairness and opportunity and he isn’t about to magically change his mind now, DACA is finished. As the kleptocrats seize power, DACA will be nothing more than an insult left to them by President Obama. Compassion, caring, or the good of the nation are not factors deserving of their time or efforts.

    Reply
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  4. Otto T. Goat November 13, 2016

    He’s literally going to feed them to wolves. It will be broadcast on live TV and the ratings will be huge.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL November 14, 2016

      Yuuuge!
      One estimate I read is that about 10% of army recruits are DACA. It’ll be so cool if the wars he starts have to be fought by the people who elected him, right?

      1. Otto T. Goat November 14, 2016

        He’s not going to start wars, and already it’s “deplorable” whites who do most of the fighting.

        1. johninPCFL November 14, 2016

          “Hispanics make up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population but just 9 percent of the active-duty military (9.9 percent of the Army). They account for 11.1 percent of those killed worldwide. ”

          “The great exception, interestingly, is the Marine Corps, the service with the most aggressive warrior culture. Hispanics are slightly over-represented among living Marines, at 13 percent, and startlingly over-represented among the ones who have died, at 18.6 percent. If the archetypal casualty of this war is a white Army GI, a Hispanic Marine Corps rifleman lies close by his side.”

          “Deplorables” seem to be ready to direct the rest in battle. Once again, the DACA folks are likely to abandon Trump’s war machine to be fought by the people who elected him.

  5. Lynda Groom November 13, 2016

    If he wants to keep his collection of rabid fans he has too. It would be a disaster for the nation, but that does not seem to matter.

    Reply
    1. FireBaron November 14, 2016

      Nah, all he has to do is blame Congress for their inaction, and call for a Constitutional Amendment (I am sure at least one of his team is smart enough to figure this one out) that allows the President to overrule Congressional inaction and transfer the funds from elsewhere to build the damn thing. Following which (as they are NOT smart enough to predict this) the House will vote for his and Pence’s Impeachment, and their Senate trials will result in Conviction for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

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  7. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 13, 2016

    Building a wall along the border will be the single-most symbolic image of Trump’s madness and of the madness of those who believe in building walls instead of bridges.

    The tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was an important outward gesture towards starting a process of the unity of humanity, as was the enactment of Civil Rights Laws in the 1960’s and other lesser pacts made for political stabilization.

    But ideological walls still remained—incapable of being torn down by political accords.
    Barriers such as an innate fear of things or people that don’t conform to the perceptions defined by “conservative” values.

    No sooner are physical and political barriers breached than new walls like the “Red Zone” in American politics, or racialism/racism, or Democrat/Republican/ Green Party, economic protectionism, greed, and excessive nationalism are reinforced.

    Trump has made it his business to create and maintain walls, and his supporters show their affirmation for building walls physical and ideologically. Tearing down the Berlin Wall was a symbol of hope, but the will of “The Red Zone” embodied in Trump’s pyrrhic victory is symbolic of a deep despair and pessimism in the minds of many voters, and guarantees further isolation, both within and without. The Civil War in America never ended—it just took a rest and started up again in the 70’s, and has reached a new level of intensity with Trump as the new Jefferson Davis.

    Reply

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