Editor’s Note: Gabriela Rodríguez joins The Weekly Issue/El Semanario as a monthly columnist.
A 35-day government shutdown ended with no resolution as Donald Trump refuses to yield his fabricated display of patriotism and interest for the safety and liberty of the American people by insisting to build a wall. If Trump truly had the best interest for the nation, his grip would not be strangling the intellectual, political, and ideological power of this country over what Colorado Senator Michael Bennet called a medieval, rinky-dink wall.
Even prior to the current White House administration, immigration reform has been difficult to achieve. Undocumented youth were drowning in overwhelming rejection from U.S. social, economic, and political institutions.
Former President Barack Obama employed questionable immigration policies while in office and the base he built on a platform of immigrant rights remained disillusioned when he left office. Under his administration, congressional funding for federal immigration enforcement increased and surpassed funding for all other criminal enforcement agencies combined. His administration performed a higher number of removals, prioritizing Criminals and Recent Border Crossers to deter continued illegal immigration into the U.S.
Obama’s strategy redefined immigration priorities and slowly started to reframe the priorities around those who were well integrated in their communities and had no criminal records. He threw undocumented immigrants inside the country a lifeline by using his executive power to relieve major pain points by creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.
Living as an immigrant in a nation that systematically rejects them is like living in a simultaneous, parallel, dimension. You can see, touch, hear and move in all the same spaces as U.S. citizens, but the rules of nature and natural order differ slightly.
Granting proper identification, employment authorization, and broader access to a higher education to undocumented young adults generated economic and educational gains for all involved.
According to a survey by the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream (UWD), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Center for American Progress, due to increased participation in the labor force, DACA recipients are boosting tax revenue, offering highly sought-after skills that benefit their employers like bilingualism, and contributing to their local communities as small-business owners. They have used their newfound economic and social opportunities to uplift the marginalized communities that founded their resilience and perseverance. DACA recipients reclaimed their communities as teachers, community organizers, and financial educators. Sympathetic public leaders have welcomed their endeavors to improve the conditions of all American people.
Obama saw the problem of unlawful presence as a threat to the promise of justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. He understood the nation’s long-standing foundation on the sacrifice and humility of immigrants. As a leader and public servant, He could not stand idly by watching hundreds of thousands drown in the confines of his promise land. By his actions he acknowledged that the source of the nation’s immigration problem was inside its political institutions along with its domestic and foreign policy. He recognized his administration’s inability to set politics aside and decided to respond to the imminent crisis people faced himself.
Although immigration reform was already a trying problem, it was disgraceful to have the nation’s most respectable democratic institutions redirect their energy to speculations and redefinitions of Trump’s weak immigration propositions.
The wall was a campaign promise he created for himself and dragged into his third year of presidency. Journalists, politicians and constituents have been entangled in debates about the wall starting with whether or not to build it to speculations about what he meant by the word “wall”. These dialogues transformed a physical barrier to keep outsiders away into a humanitarian effort to prevent death and harsh situations for human beings. As the country has been forced to engage with the idea, Trump and his defenders improvised a deeper meaning for it.
Americans deserve thoughtful legislation that promotes the economic, social and educational advancement of the nation. DACA recipients, with their unwavering loyalty to American values and proven intent to carry themselves, their communities, and the nation that binds them to the American people offer a better future. We are a constituency too valuable for the nation to gamble on.
In the last three years, Donald Trump has jeopardized the gains this nation was making by reviving its immigrant capital and utilized DACA recipients not for their proven strength and capabilities but as tokens of fear.
The wall is a gesture, a quick-fix scheme in line with Trump’s approach to politics and business. It capitalizes on xenophobic attitudes and fixes culpability for the nations’ economic and criminal conditions on a vulnerable population. Trump is picking on the powerless, he rescinded DACA only to try and sell a watered-down, limited offer right back to us.
The wall is a physical representation of a political strategy, rooted in division, to monopolize power. It isolates people who immigrate from the rest of the world.
Living as an immigrant in a nation that systematically rejects them is like living in a simultaneous, parallel, dimension. You can see, touch, hear and move in all the same spaces as U.S. citizens, but the rules of nature and natural order differ slightly. There are consequences only people who have been oppressed can experience from the world, intentions that can be sensed, and sounds only heard in the integrated dimension.
There is no nation to accept or reclaim those who migrate. Increasingly, the world feels like an unwelcoming place. This wall only adds to the landscape of inadequate, unsympathetic governance that prioritizes power over cooperation.
Gabriela Rodríguez is an Advocacy and Community Engagement Associate at KIPP Colorado Schools. She majored in Journalism/Communications at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado.
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