by Hannah Paxton ’19
Asst. Opinion Editor
Picture the student who sits next to you in the back of the classroom who you might not know very well. This student has a story to tell. This student had a gap in their resume until 2012, and then they worked at a food truck. They have not seen their grandmother for years because she lives in another country. They were granted a scholarship for half of their tuition, but are still at a loss as for how to pay tens of thousands of dollars.
This student is much like Javier Juarez, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and graduate of Brown University who spoke at the DACA Panel last Thursday, September 21. With the institution of DACA, Juarez was able to obtain a college education, but now that President Trump has rescinded the program, he may not be able to achieve his dream of attending Harvard Law School.
Many would agree that this is unfair, and that any young man or woman should have the opportunity to follow his or her dreams. They think it is the parents’ fault. They are the ones who should be blamed for illegally crossing the U.S. border. They are the ones who need to be punished, not their children.
But this is a dangerous thought, one that exhibits ignorance and impudence. To say that undocumented immigrants are committing a crime but that their children are faultless demonstrates an inconsistency in opinion. Children and parents alike come into the U.S. from various countries to find an improved life, so if kids do not deserve to be punished then why do their parents?
We say that these men and women are dreamers, striving for success in the U.S. However, once the parents are in the picture, they are deemed illegal felons. When this issue was posed to the panelists, Juarez said, “I’m here because of my parents. They are the original dreamers.”
In discussion and criticism, many do not understand the reality that undocumented immigrants face. Attorney Andrew Rogers told students at the panel that to “get in line the legal way” is to wait 29 years. For most families, 29 years is not nearly soon enough for them to seek new opportunities.
When we call undocumented immigrants criminals, what are we really condemning them for? Is it so wrong for them to want a better life, not just for themselves, but for their families as well?
Criminalizing parents is unjustified when they are the ones who brought these young dreamers to the U.S. in the first place. Since thousands of immigrants are now employed, up to 70,000 of the country’s jobs could be lost if they are deported.
These immigrants are people who are contributing to our society in ways we might not even realize.
They come from many walks of life and places around the world, but they are not so different from us. They are our peers, co-workers, friends, families. As President Obama once said, “They are Americans…in every single way except one—on paper.”