Dashed dreams and an emerging American meanness

When did America become such a mean country? Or, more accurately, when did one-third of America become so mean? You can read their comments for yourselves in the Opinions section of the on-line version of this newspaper as well as all over social media. Quite shocking, actually—to me, anyway. You will see them again when this column is posted.

Every day, and in every way, Donald Trump achieves new lows in bad governance – even to the point of throwing his own party under the bus by compromising with Democrats over hurricane relief and raising the debt ceiling to avoid shutting down the government. In my humble opinion, that’s good, but Dave Brat doesn’t think so.

In his latest unwise decision, Trump has announced that he will terminate the protections of the DACA program. DACA, which stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors, to obtain renewable two-year periods of deferred action from deportation as well as eligibility for work permits after application and payment of $500 fees. President Obama instituted the DACA program in June 2012 because Congress failed to act.

As a result, more than 800,000 young people across America came out of the shadows because they were promised that we would let them become lawful, productive members of our society. Trump has turned his back on these Dreamers. Now, it’s okay for ICE to use all their data to root them out and ship them back to countries they have never known.

It is reported that Trump will wait six months before he drops the ax on the necks of the Dreamers. Between now and then, their lives will be thrust into limbo, and pretty much ruined. Who will hire them? Who will enroll them in school? Can Trump make this country any meaner spirited? Stay tuned, it gets worse every day.

The White House rationale is simply not true. The well-worn canard that immigrants are taking jobs from Americans is demonstrably false. A business-by-business review proves this. Those industries that really do take advantage of the undocumented immigrant are those that pay the lowest wages and maximize the drudgery and misery. Anti-immigrant regulations in the agricultural South and West did not draw white workers to the fields—the fruit and vegetables just rotted there.

The most shameful attack is that Dreamers take educational space in colleges and universities away from white citizens. Like everyone else in this country, Hispanic immigrant children can get into community college or university based on their own merit and talents. There are no quotas for them. There are no lawsuits alleging discrimination in favor of immigrants. Immigrants in education are using the most basic of American promises: work hard and you will get ahead. And, most of them do. One hundred percent of them have no criminal records. Ninety-one percent of them are employed, and they pay more than $400 million in taxes.

This latest outrage is just one more example of this administration’s moral and ethical corruption. The Republican conservative wing seems willing to rubber stamp a policy that offers neither hope nor charity. Our very own Congressman, Dave Brat, is a shameless apologist for, and enabler of, Trump’s hatred. Look at his Facebook statement (and read all the comments, too) about the termination of DACA helping to preserve the “rule of law.” This is complete nonsense—but it is hurtful nonsense. He is as cruel as his heartless idol.

Legislation has been offered year after year for decades to create some sort of mechanism to provide and adjust status commensurate with the long contributions undocumented immigrants have made. But the mean-spirited have blocked or stalled every single one. Ronald Reagan effected sweeping immigration reform. Why can’t Republicans of today do the same?

When did we start punishing children for the acts of their parents? When did equalizing white supremacists with those that oppose them become okay? When did demeaning our allies become policy? When did bullying and intimidating people become strategy? When did disparaging women on Twitter become procedure? When did fear, hate, racism and bigotry become American values, morals and ideas? You know when, and many of you should be sorry, embarrassed, and ashamed.

Poised to pounce on undocumented immigrants who have faithfully served our country in uniform, as well as in our local communities, Trump and his ilk are offering neither hope nor charity to any of them. Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durban (D-IL) have proposed bipartisan legislation to protect the Dreamers.

If Congress doesn’t act, families will be torn apart and young people forced back to countries they don’t know. Our economy will lose billions of dollars. We must all get behind opposing Donald Trump’s virulent hatred. It is time for American women and men of good will to stand up for decency.

Mike McClary

Editors Note: This piece is re-posted with the author’s permission, and originally appeared here.

 

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