Dreamers Deserve Path to Citizenship
by George Wolfe
In November of 2016, a social activist group known as “Neighbors for Public Justice” (NPJ) formed in Muncie, Indiana in response to post-election issues. These issues included preserving health care, funding for public schools, and the hostile rhetoric from the Trump campaign hurtled towards Latino and Muslim immigrants. If you have seen signs in Spanish, English, and Arabic around Muncie neighborhoods that read “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” those signs were distributed by NPJ.
Our first sponsored public event was an informational meeting familiarizing members of our Latino community with the rights they have as undocumented immigrants. An Indianapolis law firm offered their services that evening pro bono. Their presentation was given in Spanish as well as in English.
Over the past several months, donations were sought to provide a scholarship to a Hispanic student in the program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The student chosen was brought to the United States as a child and is now enrolled at a prominent Midwestern university. Her parents are undocumented but they have worked in the United States since their arrival. Their daughter has a stellar resume; she graduated from high school as an honors student with a 3.9 grade point average.
This fund-raising effort and the resulting academic assistance flies in the face of President Trump’s irresponsible decision to end the DACA program. Why would our president want to disrupt the progress of these young people who are here at no fault of their own, and who are in the midst of their education to become professional members of our communities?
Trump’s decision to end DACA comes on the heels of his weak response to recent white supremacy rallies, and his failure to speak out forcefully against racism and anti-Semitism. There can be little doubt that he has no moral compass.
I am extremely encouraged that the new Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns has joined ranks with Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie and President Mitch Daniels of Purdue University in voicing support for the DACA program.
The “Dreamers” as they are also known, deserve to be given a path to citizenship. To quote President Obama, “This is about young people who grew up in America — kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
It’s time the United States Congress step up and take the initiative to do what’s right. The spirit of the law, requires it. Our moral conscience as a nation demands it. Let us lift high the “lamp beside the golden door.” Indeed, many of the Dreamers are those to whom we have given refuge from villages plagued by poverty and drug related violence. They were brought here for a better life, and are the best and brightest of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
George Wolfe is Professor Emeritus and former director of the Ball State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. He is also chair of the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship, is a trained mediator, and is the author of The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without War.