The language around DACA has made it a lot more polarizing as an issue than it should be. There’s a reason for that, so we need to talk through the basics.
The DACA program involves people who came here at an age when they had no control, who have lived their lives here, who haven’t done anything wrong, and who have enough education to be (as much as can we can tell) on a path to contributing to the economy. Obviously that just talks about the people, not the issues surrounding them.
The primary issue is what this says about immigration. The answer is actually not much.
– This isn’t saying anything about open borders. No one on any side is supporting that.
– This isn’t letting the parents on or off the hook. That’s a tricky question, but no one is making them citizens. The parents are not the issue.
– This isn’t giving future waves of immigrants a reason to come here. By now this is anything but a sure thing, and there are plenty of other reasons for people to come.
– This isn’t an attack on the rule of law. It’s a case of clemency like any other, where there are arguments for and against. They didn’t deliberately break the law and have thus far been decent people.
– Most of the stated concerns about foreign immigration don’t apply here. They’re not culturally different, they speak English, they haven’t taken anyone’s jobs away, and they personally haven’t broken the law. Their departure is not going to make other peoples’ lives better.
– As for the most basic argument—that’s 700,000 more immigrants we don’t need—the fact is that most of the population fits the category of people whose ancestors came from places where they weren’t on the top of the heap.
What is true is that deporting them is enough of a moral issue that we ought to think about it. We are talking about sending people to a country they don’t know with a language they don’t speak and washing our hands of the whole affair. There is no actual hurt from these people. Most of the country doesn’t seem to want that, but it seems we’re doing it because we can.
What kind of a country does that? There’s an answer to that question, step-by-step:
– It’s a country where immigration officials have been encouraged to treat anyone who comes through their hands as a potential criminal without rights.
– It’s a country that’s doing everything possible to give up on support of the poor.
– It’s a country actively backing away from support of education, healthcare, social security, and the middle class just generally.
– It’s a country moving toward a level of inequality unheard-of since the 19th century—where slogans about benefits for everyone are as false now as they were then.
It’s no accident that such a country would want to demonize the DACA people. The less people think about human consequences the better. Let the others think it’s still their country.
We should think carefully about the DACA people. They’re not the right targets for outrage. And it’s not just about them.