DACA and the fight against misinformation
People who oppose Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals seem to fall into one of three categories: those who have no idea what DACA is, those who think immigrants take jobs away from hardworking Americans and those who blatantly dislike the concept of an ethnically heterogeneous America.
While all three of these viewpoints intersect at anti-immigration philosophy, the first two stand out with their basis in misinformation. Blatant bigotry is terrifying and deplorable, but ignorance and a falsely-informed narrative seem to be the true fuel in the drive to uproot DACA.
A lot of false information about immigration has been popularized and integrated into a narrative that keeps Americans from understanding the role that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, hold in society. It seems that a general understanding of undocumented immigrants is that they are “illegals” who are here to steal jobs and commit crimes. This version of the story becomes even more dangerous, and far less true, when “Dreamers”—those protected under DACA—get thrown into the mix. Dreamers were brought to America, often in infancy and have since led productive lives void of crime. If they were born in the United States, they would be considered model citizens.
Compound a problematic understanding of immigration with the idea that their deportation will “make America great again,” and it starts becoming clearer why Americans stray further from understanding the immigrant experience. This perspective can be more harmful than ethnic prejudice because it has systemic value. A politician can’t reasonably deport all undocumented immigrants out of hatred, but it seems far more reasonable to remove those who may be considered a threat to perceived American greatness. The protection of America in this case not only seems right and just but can become the crux of modern patriotism, as well.
This dynamic reveals the danger in the false narrative of immigration. When we neglect to understand a population’s role in our society, we tend to devalue its access to institutions—this is disenfranchisement at its core. And when our nation is facing great turmoil socially, politically and economically, what group serves as a better scapegoat than the one which we have systemically disenfranchised?
All in all, it makes sense that an overwhelming number of Americans, especially powerful ones, want to deport Dreamers. Prejudice against immigrants can certainly be recognized as a root cause of the issue, but the reality is far more complicated. Since we have a unique opportunity to look at the social and political climate leading up to the dismantling of DACA, we have the social responsibility to analyze it and to understand what has led up to it, so that we can avoid similar circumstances in the future. In practical terms, now is the time for each of us to reflect on our own role in political discourse—and to determine how highly we value informed opinions.