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Op-eds Make Powerful Cases for Why We Must Keep DACA

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As news about the future of DACA continues to percolate, three op-eds today make powerful cases for why Donald Trump should keep the deferred action for Dreamers program. Former publisher of the Washington Post Donald E. Graham reminds us that Ken Paxton is facing a felony trial, Washington Governor Jay Inslee writes that ending DACA would mean siding with nativists who want to deport Dreamers, and Dreamer Gordon Ip tells the story of what DACA has meant to his family. Excerpts from all three follow below.

Washington Post, Donald E. Graham, “A politician wants to persecute Dreamers to distract from his own felony trial”:

The “dreamers” — an admirable group of young people — are in trouble and don’t deserve to be. They are being used as foils by a politician trying to distract attention from his own upcoming felony trial

[Texas Attorney General Ken] Paxton and the nine other state attorneys general who support him [in the lawsuit threat against DACA] argue that DACA was improperly adopted by President Barack Obama — that his executive order usurped Congress’s authority. Paxton and 26 other attorneys general successfully sued to block a much larger executive order. Having left DACA out of his initial suit, he is now doubling back (having lost two-thirds of the states that once supported him) to amend his suit to include DACA. They have given the government until Sept. 5 to phase out the program or they will sue. He hopes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, long a critic of immigration, won’t defend it, giving Paxton a cheap “victory” over young people who only want to study and work….

This is a purely political lawsuit; facing a Dec. 11 trial on charges of defrauding his friends in a business deal, Paxton wishes to distract voters by showing that he’s more anti-immigration than Trump.

CNN, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, “American dreams of young people will be cruelly ripped away”:

We must ask ourselves: Are we a confident, forward-looking nation that builds monuments — like DACA — to hope and determination? Or are we a nation that is turned inward, lauding monuments to intolerance and division?…

[Dreamers] are people like Hortencia, a young woman I met at Skagit Valley College. She is working to earn a degree in business management and says she hopes to be an inspiration to her daughter and her community. These Dreamers are aspiring — and, yes, inspiring — young people who contribute to our country and our economy.

For years, my state of Washington tried to pass its own state Dream Act. Many Republicans weren’t interested. But some thought differently after they met Dreamers and heard stories that revealed their courage, grit and determination. It is the same determination that built America and will help it continue to thrive.

It was then that these Republicans joined Democrats in doing the right thing. I hope that same spirit can work in Washington, D.C., like it did in our state capitol….

If President Trump will not protect Dreamers, Congress must immediately pass the bipartisan DREAM Act and provide permanent protection for these young Americans…

Now America is facing an identity crisis, encouraged by nativist forces in our White House. In rhetoric and in deed, we are witnessing the mainstreaming of a hateful and discriminatory ideology I had hoped my children and grandchildren would never see.

While our nation rightfully expresses outrage over the Charlottesville tragedy and its fallout, we must not lose sight of the imminent threat to this crucial program that protects young immigrants.

As governor, I stood up against the travel ban, and as governor, I will fight in every way I can to keep these Dreamers here, at home. I hope Republicans in Congress and the administration will fight for Dreamers as well. Deportation is no more a solution to our immigration challenges than the President’s nativist “build a wall” plan.

Federal lawmakers must act now to protect Dreamers. Staying on the sidelines is not an option. Strongly worded tweets are not enough. These are people pursuing incredible futures. Let’s give them the chance they deserve.

Los Angeles Times, Gordon Ip and Daniela Gerson, “I’m a DACA student and I’m praying ICE won’t pick up my parents.”

When Gordon Ip said goodbye to his parents this month and returned to the University of Nebraska Omaha for the fall semester, he knew it might be a very long time before he saw his mother and father again. They could be detained and even deported to Hong Kong at any moment. The Ips have lived in Southern California for 18 years, but none of them has a valid visa, permanent green card or citizenship papers. For now, Ip is secure; he was 4 years old when the family arrived in the U.S., and the Obama administration granted him temporary protection under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But President Trump has made no promises about Ip and his fellow Dreamers, and his executive orders make it clear that Ip’s parents — a nail salon worker and a construction worker — are at risk. Ip, 22, spoke to Daniela Gerson by phone from his family’s home in Alhambra.

All I feel is fear. I worry about my parents being ripped away from me. I worry about succeeding, and them not being here to see their hard work pay off.

We came up with a back-up plan if they get deported. “Finish your education here,” they told me. “Otherwise, what did we do all of this for? What did we sacrifice all these years for?”

People never suspect me of having immigration problems. “OK, so why do you want to know about DACA?” people ask when I show up at a know-your-rights meeting or the financial aid office. I don’t blame them. I didn’t suspect either.

I was 17 and applying to colleges when I told my parents at dinner one night that I needed my Social Security number. My mother, father and brother stared down at their rice bowls. All I could hear was the click of chopsticks on porcelain.

I don’t understand everything my parents say in Cantonese, and they don’t understand everything I say in English. It was my older brother who eventually explained to me that we aren’t legal immigrants. I finally understood why he ended up at community college, and why we had never visited the rest of our family in China or Hong Kong.

How was it possible that I could not have known? I’d been watching news stories about immigrants for years. But the debate was always about the Mexican-American border.

I did not know stories like my parents’ existed. My father saved for more than 15 years to move to America. But once we landed in L.A., legal advisors scammed him. We were left with basically nothing, and because we overstayed our tourist visas we were ineligible to become legal residents.

Two days after I graduated high school I got DACA status. My father greeted me when I came home, his eyes glowing with joy like I’d never seen before. “Our struggles are over,” he told me. “We’ve finally made it in America.”

My parents’ status stayed the same, but DACA changed my life and my brother’s. I received a state scholarship to UNO. I’m on the speech and debate team, and to know that I can cross state boundaries without fear of deportation relieves so much stress. My brother graduated from Cal State Long Beach, and right away got a job in graphic design.

I never thought Trump could win. And then I heard our new president saying, “We’re going to start deporting you now. We’re going to find you.”

For a few months after the election, I was just praying….

My friends here think Trump is a joke, but they have sort of accepted that he is president. They can do that. They are mostly children of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, or Latino. They’re all citizens. Some of them know that my situation is a little different, but I don’t think any know that I could be kicked out of the country.