Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week.
While a New Orleans appeals court heard arguments about the legality of DACA—and Dreamers’ defenders extolled the contributions this group of young people make to the economy and fabric of this nation—county officials in the south of Texas were asking Governor Greg Abbott to declare an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants that merits, according to them, that the state direct its own resources to expel them.
This is an anti-immigrant litany that never ends and that has no logical support, not by demographics nor the economy, much less the immigration tradition of the United States. It is, principally, a reflection of the tired, old rhetoric that will surely shame future generations in this country, and the world.
We have to ask how many Dreamers crossed via the southern border and are considered “invaders” by this type of official, and that sector of the population that wants everyone to be expelled, even migrants as valiant as the Dreamers. This happens when undocumented people are criminalized and it’s assumed that everyone who doesn’t have papers is a “criminal.”
We repeat: this is a rhetorical device that only serves to show the intellectual and political poverty of those who prefer to act against positioning the United States as an inclusive and diverse country, rather than losing their class and, especially, racial privileges. In their parallel universe, minorities should not demand anything.
Of course we also cannot bury our heads in the sand and minimize the complaints of many border residents. But this is what happens when you have a broken migration system that responds neither to the needs of the labor market nor humanitarian factors. There is no distinction between a legitimate asylum-seeker and someone who wants to reunite with their family members or offer their labor. It all gets jumbled up in this human mass that unfortunately also includes drug traffickers, smugglers, and all those who, one way or another, exploit the needs and desperation of undocumented people.
But we also have to be clear that today’s migrations are not being analyzed fairly, especially by the most developed countries, who only respond with basic policies to regulate the migration flow or simply obstruct the passage of migrants through their borders, without taking into account economic inequality, internal conflicts, and even climate change. Those are three drivers that push millions of human beings to abandon everything and leave their countries of origin, with the goal of charting a new path for their and their families’ lives. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is lacking all context.
While the Dreamers have always enjoyed sympathy from politicians and the general populace, legislation to legalize them still has not been approved, such that they depend on programs like the one President Barack Obama created, under pressure, in 2012; we’re referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gave work permits and protection from deportation to those who arrived in the United States before 2007. However, a judicial decision limits it to renewing permits, and not accepting new applications. This year, for example, 100,000 undocumented young people graduated from high school without the ability to apply for DACA.
The case against DACA was led by Texas and joined by the governments of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia. They argue that the program imposes “costs” to state governments and even affirm that, if it did not exist, many of those Dreamers would end up leaving the United States, as if that were realistic or, in fact, beneficial for this country. It’s clear that the eternal complaint of anti-immigrant people has nothing to do with “legality,” and everything to do with a racist attitude that they can’t hide, especially after the most xenophobic president in the history of the United States, Donald Trump, came to power.
Multiple studies of the program conclude something very concrete: the Dreamers add more than $40 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year, which translates into six times more than the $7 billion DACA costs the United States. That is due to, among many other factors, the fact that this group of young people have also become part of the economy as purchasers and investors, whether it be in the automobile industry or housing. They have also opened businesses, and especially strengthened the international competitiveness of this country through their educational preparation.
Is anyone else carrying this load right now, especially with this anti-immigrant pushback always against them? No, to be realistic, those Dreamers contribute a lot more than many anti-immigrant people who just base their “superiority,” erroneously, on racial factors, turning into beings that emanate hate, prejudice, and division.
Basically, those three anomalies that a large part of U.S. society suffers from cannot—must not—be prioritized in the historical path that any nation, strong or weak, must walk, in this 21st century, from which better things are expected on all fronts, especially human rights.
Now, the future of DACA is in the hands of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. On the three-judge panel that heard the case this past Wednesday, two were nominated by ex-President Donald Trump.
What is not clear is whether this case will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by conservatives, where good news for the most vulnerable sectors of this country has not recently emanated.
To read this article in Spanish click here.