In 2012 President Obama enacted DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. These people are known as “Dreamers.” Children of undocumented immigrants who crossed the border with their parents while still too young to even know what was going on. These children only know this country, most of them have been educated here, many made careers here. They are essentially as American as anyone else except for the small fact that as babies, toddlers or very young children they came to this country with their parents without the permission of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
President Obama’s action allowed these Dreamers to remain in this country (subject to renewal every two years), and continue with their education and careers. They are allowed to contribute to this nation despite how they were brought here in the first place. President Elect Trump and his supporters want to cancel DACA and possibly initiate identification and deportation of the Dreamers for the crime of being brought to this country illegally without the consent of the US government, or their own for that matter.
Recently Rick Santorum demonstrated his Christian love, the love of our nation, the law and hardworking people by telling Elizabeth Vilchis, a Dreamer brought to this nation from Mexico when she was 7 years old and is now a Mechanical Engineer contributing back to the nation she has lived in ever since, that she should take her knowledge and expertise and go to another country.
DACA applies to upwards of about 1.8 million Dreamers brought to this nation before they were 16, have been here at least 5 years, are under the age of 31, have not committed any felonies or significant misdemeanor and are either in school, have a High School diploma or GED or have served in the Military. This is not citizenship or even a short cut to citizenship, it is merely permission to work in this country and must be renewed every two years. It’s essentially a reprieve from being denied permitted to work and/or being deported. This only seems fair considering Dreamers themselves broke no laws. At worst, their parent or parents did.
It would appear the legal mindset of Donald J. Trump, his advisors, his surrogates and his supporters is that rather than facing legal consequences for your specific actions made with malice of forethought, you should face them for simply who you are.
It’s not just Dreamers, Muslims because of who they are and their faith are subject to legal consequences, the LGBTQ community are subject to legal consequences for who they are (and the science is clear, by birth).
This is not the first time our nation has gone down this road. Native Americans who made the bad choice of being here for countless generations long before the first illegal immigrants from Europe came here suffered the legal consequences of being relocated against their will. Not for any crimes they committed, but for who and where they were.
During World War II Japanese and Japanese descendants living in this country were rounded up and interned in concentration camps. Not for any crimes they committed, but for their ancestral lineage, for who they were. This isn’t how the criminal justice system should work.
Criminal law ideally is a set of regulations imposed on the community to even the playing field and ensure individuals or groups are not victimized by another person or persons. This is to ensure that if someone with criminal intent physically harms another, steels from another, harasses another, or endangers another there are consequences for their acts. To punish a dreamer is like charging a kidnapping victim for being held against their will on someone else’s property.
Dreamers are here and are contributing to our society. Under DACA they have not been placed ahead of the line for anyone seeking naturalization. Every two years they must still apply for another two years to be allowed to work and remain in this country. To tell them to take what this nation provided them and what they worked for and move to another country is purely hateful and wrongheaded in every sense of the work.
People should only be punished by their acts, intentional and/or recklessly not for who they are. That is the thought that leads to ethnic cleansing and genocide and is something I would hope this nation is no longer in favor of and we have learned from our prior mistakes.