We knew that about 800,000 Dreamers were in trouble last September when President Donald J. Trump told they not “to worry” when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was established by then-President Barack Obama to shield high-achieving, undocumented immigrants from deportation.
“They shouldn’r really worry. I have a big heart,” he said in January 2017. “We’re going to take care of everybody.
“We’re going to deal with DACA with heart,” he said the following month.
Well, it appears the Dreamers were taken hostage by the president as well as most Republicans and some Democrats. They became nothing more than bargaining chips in a chess game that had no rhyme nor reason.
Democrats caved in late January when voting for a massive tax cut, and then a few weeks later on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Despite pressure by Dreamers to convince members of Congress to withhold their vote on those pieces of legislation unless there was a “clean” Dream Act, business went on as usual.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, withheld their votes. Surprisingly, Fresno-based Congressman Jim Costa, a Democrat, did not. (Costa, who has expressed his support for Dreamers, has not responded to requests from Vida en el Valle to explain his vote).
Never mind that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 85 percent, including 75 percent of Republicans, according to a recent Quinniapac poll – support putting Dreamers on a track to citizenship.
Sure, Trump and others have praised Dreamers and have assured them they have their backs. But this is a time for action, not words. Their words are as worthless as a monopoly on cassette tapes.
Last Thursday, politicians let down the children who were brought into this country when they were too young to make the decision themselves.
Trump deserves the greatest share of the blame for trying to throw a border wall on the back of a new Dream Act. He also threw in an effort to end family reunification and a change to the visa lottery – a try seen by many as a way to make the country whiter – into the mix.
One day, Trump is heard on national television saying he will sign whatever legislation Democrats and Republicans come up with, then gives a thumbs down to such a deal.
The problem, as we see it, is not with undocumented youth who have become contributing members of their communities. Many of them have gone on to become teachers, nurses, community leaders or military members.
The problem is with politicians who always manage to say one thing and vote a different way.
“Young people who know no other country than this country, who came here at 2 or 3 years of age, to now be subjected to deportation would be a stain that this country would never recover from,” said Sanders last week.
It’s apparent there is a stain on federal lawmakers. Our Dreamers deserved much better from their country.