We are just 100 Days into the Trump Administration, and it’s clear that his radical immigration proposals have been nothing but a colossal disaster for the country.
In the past couple of months, Americans have had a front row seat to witness Trump’s anti-immigrant policies in action. For so many immigrant families, including those, like mine, have lived in the U.S. for decades these actions have taken a toll on our daily lives while wreaking havoc on communities across the United States. We’re not only watching this unfold on the news. We’re living it.
The cruelty has been unrelenting. From U.S. citizen children witnessing the deportation of their immigrant mothers to immigrants being too scared to report crimes in their communities, there is no denying that the Trump Administration has followed through with the racist and xenophobic vision it campaigned on during the 2016 presidential election.
Meanwhile, Trump’s vagueness on the fate of DACA, a program that shields young immigrant DREAMers from deportation, means that hundreds of thousands of us are living in an extended limbo. Initiated by President Barack Obama in 2012, the DACA program has provided almost a million immigrants like myself with the ability to apply for a driver’s license, work permit, and a temporary deferral from deportation, as long as they pass a background check, pay a fee and meet some very specific criteria.
In 2016, Candidate Donald Trump promised to eliminate DACA on day one of his administration, while President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he has a “big heart” for DACA beneficiaries and recently said that young immigrants should “rest easy.”
For so many immigrant families, including those, like mine, have lived in the U.S. for decades these actions have taken a toll on our daily lives while wreaking havoc on communities across the United States. We’re not only watching this unfold on the news. We’re living it.
Try to “rest easy” when you know your own family could be picked up by immigration officials at any point in time. When you know DREAMers are being deported. When the Attorney General is the anti-immigrant extremist Jeff Sessions. In fact, just look at how Sessions’ said that DACA beneficiaries are not being targeted in the same breath that he emphasizes that “everybody in the country illegally is subject to being deported.” DHS Secretary John Kelly parrots that point as well.
The words of President Trump don’t match what’s happening on the ground. The actions of those in his administration in charge of immigration show no signs of pivoting on any of his extreme anti-immigrant policies.
Nothing that Donald Trump has said about DREAMers or the DACA program inspires confidence. Nothing. Why should we believe the promises of Trump regarding DREAMers when he has promised to go after criminals and is instead targeting non-criminals around the country? Why should DACA recipients ‘rest easy’ when the very public examples of Daniel Ramirez, Juan Manuel Montes, and Dani Vargas offer reminders to the contrary? Why should we believe anything pro-immigrant that comes out of the mouth of a man whose entire candidacy and presidency is based on demonizing immigrants and stoking white resentment?
The President’s lack of specifics on the future of the program, combined with the misdirection from his Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security, put beneficiaries of the Obama-era program under particular stress and anxiety.
There already are three vivid examples of why DACA beneficiaries should not “rest easy” as Trump suggests, and it’s only been 100 days into his administration. Instead “resting easy”, DACA beneficiaries should be encouraged to continue to organize against anti-immigrant legislation inspired by Trump at the local or state level, make an emergency plan should immigration agents ever knock on their door, and educate themselves on what their rights are should they ever be detained.
Because, at the end of the day, DACA beneficiaries are still one bad day away from seeing their protective status terminated by Donald Trump or a bureaucratic backlog that may temporarily lapse their status and expose them to immediate deportation.
If the Trump Administration really wants DREAMers and DACA recipients to “rest easy,” they need to back up their condescending reassurances with real and official policy declarations that address the status and lives of DREAMers. And, even then, you’ll pardon us if we don’t rest easy when that same Administration still targets our parents and scapegoats our communities.
Donald Trump and his supporters have not changed their immigration positions, and neither should we as DACA beneficiaries. If we want to see relief for the millions of undocumented immigrants across the country, our families included, then we must continue to fight for justice and never “rest easy.””
Juan Escalante is the Digital Organizer for America’s Voice Education Fund and a DACA recipient. Americasvoice.org