On DACA, Protests, and the Shutdown
Last Wednesday, The Seed Project brought around 100 undocumented youth and supporters together in Los Angeles to advocate for immigrant’s rights and demand that no spending bill be passed without a DACA fix.
The organizers are an amazing group. They stayed with me for a few days, and their dedication to their advocacy is awe inspiring. I was able to witness the whole event while doing the livestream for their FaceBook page.
The protest was but one of many that’s happened recently as we’ve witnessed the government shutdown and reopen.
The event started with a brief rally in front of the federal building on North Los Angeles Street before marching to the Immigrant Detention Center off the 101. After another brief rally, protestors blocked the street for around 30 minutes before moving on to Olvera Street for a final short rally before dispersing.
The evening was filled with devastating testimony. Families separated, dreams deferred. Friends told these stories. I’ve heard them before, and when they weep my heart still breaks. Good human beings, brought here through no fault of their own, do not deserve such abominable treatment. To put them through this shames us as a nation. There should be no obstacle to seeking a better life in the Untied States just as past generations of immigrants did.
I saw on the livestream comments objections to the use of disruptive protesting tactics.
I for one support the use of these disruptive tactics. They’re effective and necessary in social movements. It forces governments, local, state, and national, to take notice where they otherwise might ignore. Normal people have fewer means than governments to leverage power on the political process, and this is one. Yes, some commutes may have been a little longer, but people’s lives will be ruined if this movement doesn’t succeed. The success of the movement takes precedence over people’s discomfort. Besides, there are ways to go around that intersection in LA if you go a block or two in either direction, so I doubt anyone was endangered if it was a true emergency.
Undocumented youth have been living with heartbreak, fear, and uncertainty for too long. They are productive, active members of our society. Despite the major obstacle of being unable to accept federal student aid 28 percent have graduated from college. They serve our communities as first responders and our nation in the Armed Forces. They are students, doctors, lawyers, journalists, every honored, venerated profession in society. Many are simply decent, hard-working people who are getting by.
They all deserve to stay.
Most Americans support a DACA fix. It is urgent. Over 100 undocumented youth are losing their status a day, putting them at risk for dire consequences. Come the March deadline that number will jump to over a thousand a day. Even with the court injunction the danger is still very real as renewing can take a while. This situation is untenable. A fix needs to come now not later.
The persistent, insidious myths about DACA recipients and immigrants more broadly have been debunked again and again. They commit crime at an extremely low rate (less than one percent of DACA recipients have lost their status do to criminal actions.) DACA recipients, and immigrants more broadly, are an economic benefit to society. Immigrants are helping to keep social security solvent with their taxes. There are more than enough arguments centered around economic benefits to justify pro-immigrant and pro-DACA recipient policies.
Money is not the key reason immigrants and DACA recipients should be supported. I’ve been called out on that, and I don’t want to give the impression that that is my stance. The key reason to support immigrants and DACA recipients is the moral argument. It is a matter of justice.
Egalitarianism is the base idea for all forms of government that uplift and fulfill human life and dignity. How can we delineate the egalitarian from the un-egalitarian? We must decide what is just, and that Rawlsian notion of justice as fairness is a great way to do so. If it is not fair it is not just and therefore points to inequality. If, for example, we could not be born into any place in society and be happy there (the Rawlsian veil of ignorance/original position) we cannot say it is fair (and hence just and egalitarian.)
When justice is not done for some it debases justice for us all. If Justice, dignity, compassion, and humanity can be robbed from some on completely unjustifiable grounds we submit that it can be robbed from any of us on unjustifiable grounds. It breaks down the vital strings of compassion and understanding that bind together communities and nations. It breeds hate and division where there can be unity and friendship.
Not giving DACA recipients citizenship is unjust. It stomps on a proud American ideal of welcoming immigrants. It cuts down the Statue of Liberty at her knees and extinguishes her mighty torch. A torch that lit the way for my family, for millions of families. It is un-Christian, ironic given many so-called Christians are lining up in support of the xenophobic right on this issue. It is cruel. It is ignorant. It is contrary to good governance. It’s wrong no matter what angle you look at it from.
The immigrant/DACA recipient community is strong and brave. They will never stop fighting. They will keep it up for a century or longer if need be. They’ll win. I’m proud to be allied with them, I was proud to be there Wednesday in my small capacity. I’m awed by their courage and skill, and ask Congress and all our fellow members of society to join us in this fight for justice.
The Democrats failed the DACA community by allowing a CR without a DACA fix. Every time they kick the can down the road they show they don’t care about DACA recipients in a meaningful way. The injunction allowing the DACA recipients to renew will end up in The Supreme Court soon and could be struck down. New DACA applications cannot be filed leaving many in very serious jeopardy as of this very moment. DACA recipients are people, not dispensable bargaining chips.
When the time comes again in February Democrats must stand firm. Don’t sell out the undocumented community.
Justice for immigrants now.
Clean Dream Act now.
No dream, no deal.