DACA speech

DACA speech

Can we find ten Republican senators willing to vote for a path to citizenship for the Dreamers? Can we find ten Republican senators willing to go to their constituents and say, “Yes, I refused to use 600,000 people as bargaining chips. I stuck up for them.” Or at least to say, “Yes, I didn’t want to throw out all those years of mutual investment and over one billion dollars in economic activity. Don’t forget: We already paid for them to go through to the twelfth grade, worked with them as they made it through college, and then continued the partnership as they began careers in this country — the only one many of them know, especially since DACA rules have prevented the majority from visiting their country’s of origin.” Can’t we find ten Republican senators willing to vote on a path to citizenship for the Dreamers without entangling that very specialized and pressing (given the fact that it is likely that the Supreme Court will probably soon rule DACA out of existence) issue with the larger — admittedly less clearcut — immigration issue? Can’t we find ten Republican senators willing to help 600,000 Americans in all but the paperwork — whose only crime was being huddled as small, sleep-eyed, confused children into trucks by their friends and family, and then making a life, making friends, joining communities, getting educated, finding work, being people here?

I don’t know what to say, America. The polls show you don’t want this to happen, but can you find enough of a national conscious to do something now, while there’s yet a chance?

A nation is more than a government, more than borders, more than an economy encased in a military. A nation is a society, a nation is a people, a nation is a set of values. What are our values? And can we politically agree upon what we as a people already agree on? Or do we just sit by and watch the unfolding of something that we as a group recognize to be obviously both cruel and (for both the overall economy and the health of local communities and individual businesses) stupid?

But the demise of DACA is not immediate, and it is only extremely likely — not yet a certainty. So then what? Nothing happens. The Republicans take over the House. The matter is appealed to the US Supreme Court. The conservative court almost certainly rules DACA illegal. Can we expect the Republican House to act? Maybe. Probably not without demanding all kinds of unrelated concessions. And today we have a Democratic House and Senate. We just need ten Republicans whose constituents would reward rather than punish them for refusing to use 600,000 of their fellow (for all they can tell: many will be surprised who from their office and community disappear if DACA is undone) Americans as pawns. Can’t we do that? Aren’t there enough people in red states willing to ask for that? Enough people in red states ready to expect the right thing from their representatives?

Anyway, the world is full of essays. The world is full of noise. The world is full of strident opinions. But this isn’t even like that. This is something we already agree on that common decency bid us act on now, while there’s a good chance to stop torturing 600,000 people. Because picture that: since you were three, you have lived and went to school and found a job and worked and made a life in this country; and you never know how much longer before you’re told you’re not welcome, you can’t work, can’t support yourself or your children, can’t even stay, have to go somewhere that you’ve never known — have not even ever been allowed to visit. That’s no way to live, and expecting people to live like that is no way to behave.

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