Support for the Dreamers

This is the letter I sent to The Mercury, on behalf of Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice (MAPJ) on September 8. It remains relevant.

To the Editor:

I went to the Wednesday protest at Bosco Plaza of President Trump’s rescission of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We heard so many dreams in that circle of college students, dreams that could be easily dashed. Under DACA, they were allowed to work and study here, moving with relative ease, assured they would not be deported. Now, with the rescission, anyone under DACA can stay here only until their current permit expires, sometime in the next two years. They cannot leave the country for fear they will not be readmitted. And no one else can apply DACA.

The university has acted quickly and honorably to assure students they will do all they can to support them personally and to work for their safety. However, the university cannot fully protect them. Nor can our city, though as individuals or public officials we can assure them that they are accepted as welcome members of our community. We must continue to offer those assurances.

Nothing can make a real difference, though, unless Congress acts promptly to pass legislation to guarantee that young people brought here by their parents without papers are allowed to continue to work, go to school and serve in the military. We hope that Congress will also offer a path to citizenship for those who were covered by DACA before the rescission and others like them brought to the country as children.

This is not a partisan issue, but an issue of what we are called to be as Americans. Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice (MAPJ) feels we are called as Americans to make a commitment to young immigrants. Our political values depict this nation as one of equal opportunity. Our social values of care and concern call us to appreciate the work, the family ties and promise of these dreamers. Our moral values call us to radical hospitality in the wake of discrimination and hostility.

Your editorial of September 6 commended Representative Marshall for his statement of support to the dreamers. Statements, though, are easy. We need to insist that Congress follow up the feel-good statements with real legislation that will secure the protection of the dreamers from fears of deportation and offer them the hope of citizenship.

 

Jonalu Johnstone

MAPJ Board member

 

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