Dreamers need you. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke. Will you sit back and destroy the dreams of 800,000 young people? Or will you demand those dreams be realized? Inaction is action. Now is the time to act. This is what’s at stake, some legal guidance, and practical ways to help in the wake of the dismantling of DACA.
Here’s to the Dreamers
“Here’s to the ones who dream. Foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache. Here’s to the mess we make.” La La Land.
President Trump and Jeff Sessions just made a mess. A big one. Leaders from both parties, corporate America, and others rightly decried the action. If DACA is shuttered next year, more than 1,000 immigrants stand to lose their work permits each day according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress. Fortune Magazine cites reports ranging from $280 billion to $460.3 billion in losses over the next decade. And that does not include the $24.6 billion dollar loss to the already struggling Medicare and Social Security System.
Sessions was wrong when he claimed destroying DACA would “further economically the lives of millions who are struggling.” Perhaps worse was his next statement, “And it will enable our country to more effectively teach new immigrants about our system of government and assimilate them to the cultural understanding that support it.” Yikes! With all due respect Mr. Sessions I know several DACA recipients who could better teach on the pluralism that defines our system of government than many Americans.
Meet the Dreamers
I was disturbed by the Attorney General’s statement with frequent reference to the rule of law implying Dreamer’s are lawless individuals that “put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most Dreamer’s are in their 20’s. By definition the oldest could only be 36. All were children when brought to the United States at an average age of six. These children have grown up in our schools. The only country they know is the United States. They speak perfect English, are in colleges and serving in our military. By definition they have no criminal records and were carefully vetted to be no security risk.
These young men and women raced in to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. They volunteer and are engaged in their communities. My city is predominantly Hispanic and many of my sons’ friends are Dreamers. They are amazing men and women. If you’ve never met a dreamer, here’s the next best introduction by video:
What makes a Dreamer a Dreamer?
In a narrow sense we refer to DACA recipients as Dreamers in response to Dream Acts adopted by states and attempted and failed in Congress. Dream is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. But the acronym was intentional.
Dreamers dare to dream. Like another great dreamer they dare to dream they might one day “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. King. Like the great dreamers I named my sons after – Joseph and Daniel – they dream of being used by God to make a difference.
Both the biblical Joseph and Daniel were immigrants taken as children to foreign lands. They learned the language and attended the schools. Fortunately for them neither Ramses nor Nebuchadnezzar rescinded their DACA applications. Both leaders were wise enough to recognize men of wisdom and character. As a result their nations prospered.
We would be wise to learn from these leaders. Our young DACA recipients have incredible potential to further our nation and our communities. They are vibrant religious and community leaders. Will we invite their dreams – or destroy them?
How to Kill a Dream
Great business leaders know that diversity drives innovation. What great company thrives on uniformity? The best leaders know to ‘wow’ a dream to life, instead of ‘how’ a dream to death. The strength of America is its diversity and our fundamental belief that dreams can come true. But when we emphasize uniformity and nationalism we kill dreams.
Shutting down some of our best and brightest through the ending of DACA is short sighted. That we would be willing to destroy the dreams of 800,000 – 0.002% of our population – is beyond explanation. The Attorney General resorted to law and the fear of an impending lawsuit from nine states to justify ending DACA, but that was just an excuse to end a program he strongly opposed and the president campaigned against.
DACA and the Law
The Attorney General knew better than to call DACA “unilateral executive amnesty.” DACA is NOT amnesty. Every executive must exercise prosecutorial discretion and every executive has done so. Obama’s action for a small isolated group of individuals in DACA has strong historical and court precedence. I agreed at the time that the better approach was congressional, but to call it out of the bounds of constitutional history is simply wrong.
What happens now?
If you are a DACA recipient or work with our Dreamer’s here are some things to know now.
- No new DACA petitions are being received;
- Petitions filed by midnight September 5, 2017 will still be processed;
- Renewals filed before October 5, 2017 will still be processed;
- Current cards will still be valid through the last day they expire;
- No new travel documents will be issued. All others will expire on their set date;
- Employers cannot fire someone for being a DACA recipient until the employment authorization card expires;
- While DACA recipients are at risk of deportation, most are eligible for other forms of immigration relief and should seek competent legal counsel;
- While the government will not presently use the data collected against DACA recipients, there is no promise for what the future may hold;
- Beware of scams! Many clinics are opening that claim they can assist with renewals or other relief. Only lawyers and BIA certified individuals are qualified to help.
- Review the frequently asked questions provided by homeland security.
How to Keep the Dream Alive
Here are specific steps you can take now to help your DACA neighbors:
- Download our free Family Safety Planning Guide with extensive legal guidance, forms and referrals.
- Help Dreamers find appropriate help to renew their applications.
- Involve your church community in renewed commitment to our DACA neighbors. The church should speak up for these young Daniel’s and Joseph’s.
- Contact your Senator and Congressman. Calling is best. Let them know you want them to act immediately on passing the DREAM Act.
- Join peaceful demonstrations.
- PRAY! Hold prayer vigils.
There is a wonderful story in Luke 18 of a vulnerable widow. Jesus is talking about the establishment of his kingdom in a series of stories. He demonstrates we must be advancing His kingdom and a chief means of doing so is through prayer. To illustrate this he uses the plight of a widow persistently appearing before an unjust judge to grant her justice. Her persistence wears the judge out and she receives justice. Jesus pointedly states,
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? Lk. 18:7
Cry out to Jesus and be persistent in crying out for justice from Congress. From a human perspective, the likelihood of passing a DREAM Act is small. But our God is big. Don’t let the dreams of Dreamer’s die. I firmly believe the next Daniel and Joseph are among them.