By Erik Garcia, Chispa
The Supreme Court of the United States deferred action last week on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The move leaves the policy in place for about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants for a little while longer with any possible ruling from the high court coming no earlier than 2020. But with the border wall being central to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the DACA debate returns to a poisonous political realm.
For all the amnesty howls from Know Nothings, what DACA actually offers is temporary protection from deportation and a temporary work permit for those who are eligible. The program, first introduced by President Barack Obama (the Deporter-In-Chief) in 2012, came about after undocumented youth organized and pressured the administration to stop rampantly separating families. As it stands now, DACA only covers about six percent of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
In September of 2017, President Donald Trump’s mouth probably salivated at the prospect of ruining those 700,000 families on top of the ones he has dedicated to ruin throughout the course of his mediocre presidency. If the chatter about DACA from that year until now shows us anything, it’s that undocumented people continue to be political pawns, and nothing more. If it were up to Trump’s bigoted base, we would’ve already been deported. But Trump is facing resistance from a Democratic Party only committed to valuing the lives of human beings according to our economic contributions.
But instead of coming outright in support of immigrants and rejecting the expansion of the border wall, Democrats have outrageously supported the idea of funding $5.7 billion toward a “smart wall.” What this means is that Democrats don’t want to cave in on the symbolism of a grand physical barrier but are completely down with funding more family separations and death by militarizing the border. These are enforcement strategies that have historically been tested on black and immigrant communities before being expanded upon to the rest of the country–facial recognition technology, anyone?
Trump is so committed to his base that he previously said he would “be proud” to shutdown the government over the wall. Last year, immigrant organizers demanded a “clean” Dream Act during budget discussions. At that time, Democrats had very real leverage over the Republican Party and their need to have a budget voted on. Immigrants organized direct actions and campaigns for a #CleanDreamAct. If Democrats were as committed as Republicans, they would’ve been willing to shutdown the government, but caved instead.
Now that the government is reopened, at least through Feb. 8, and the fate of DACA not likely to be decided until 2020, we prepare to embark on another emotional roller coaster as our lives are brought to the table like a bunch of chips in a twisted game of political poker. Either way, the 2020 presidential election will undeniably be detrimental to thousands, if not millions, of immigrants, unless Democrats show some spine and advocate for all immigrants and really let us know that they are committed to our lives and our families.