Interestingly, not may people at the march were familiar with “DACA“–“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals– the legislation signed by President Obama in 2012 that helped undocumented youth brought into the US as children defer deportation for 2 years. The 2 year grace period is renewable, and essentially allowed young people, many of whom were raised here, to live without constant fear of deportation. Though it is highly imperfect and in many ways inadequate,it provides/provided a important temporary protection for young people, many of whom live as de facto Americans. It is unclear whether the Trump Administration will repeal this legislation, but given his promises to deport 2 million undocumented residents in his first 100 days, and the fact that the information on DACA-qualified residents is held at the Federal level, it is possible that youth who provided the government their information so they could be protected will find themselves under threat. For more information on DACA, please see this recent Q+A from the Washington Post.
The sign I chose also makes reference to the broader trajectory of the DREAM Act/ the concept of “DREAMERS”. So many of our families in California are “mixed status” families–meaning that some members of the family have legal status, while others do not. This is a treacherous situation for families, potentially meaning that US-born children can have their parents deported and their non-US-born siblings deported. The consequences in terms of safety, quality of life and health for these families is far-reaching. In his 2014 Executive Order, Obama tried to grant protections to families in this situation, but tragically, the Executive Order was rejected by a vote of a tied 4-4 Supreme Court in June 2016.
For me, this is a cross-cutting issue. Through slash and burn capitalism, we create economic pressures that make life untenable in the nations of the global south. This forces migration crises, where those with the most to lose are also the least likely to have the luxury time and money to pursue “legal paths” to immigration. Under extreme pressure, these immigrants undertake harrowing, life-threatening journeys to the United States, where they then must live in constant fear of deportation– something that lingers and festers even after a lifetime of labor, participation, and contribution. Finally, after a persistent blockade of efforts to develop a ‘pathway to citizenship,” that forces Obama to take the pathway of an Executive Order to move this issue, Republicans blockade the confirmation of Nominee Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, driving the whole issue to a permanent halt. As angry as I am about Trump, my fury may be overshadowed by the anger I feel toward our Republican congress.
So this is my sign. I think it gets to the essence of what is at stake here. I will be writing this up and sending it to my congressional representatives, both in California, and in the Ohio congressional district where I will be voting as of 8/1/17.