I believe “Dreamers,” or the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, are every bit as American as myself, and deserve to be treated with dignity.
Perhaps our nation’s perpetual partisanship is making me cynical, but if there’s one thing that surprises me about Dreamers, it’s the wide support felt by many citizens for keeping Dreamers in America.
In a recent poll conducted by NPR and Ipsos, two in three Americans support legal status for Dreamers, including 51 percent of Republicans polled. As it turns out, there’s something most Americans can agree on: Dreamers belong in America.
Consider that the median age of entry for a Dreamer is six years old, while the most common age of entry is three years old and the average DACA recipient is 24 years old as of September. Those ages are far too young to be considered rational agents and too young to be responsible for being brought into America by their families.
These young immigrants have spent most of their lives in this country. Forcing a person from their home in America to a country they don’t remember is cruel.
Even if one does not agree with the rationale to this point, everyone should want to keep Dreamers here for economic reasons. Research from the American Action Forum (AAF) found that Dreamers contribute $42 billion to the US GDP (averaging $109,000 per worker) and generate almost $10.8 billion in tax revenue while only drawing $3.4 billion. That means Dreamers contribute an extra $7.4 billion to the American government.
Additionally, the AAF found the total cost of deportation for all of the 690,000 Dreamers would be between $7 billion and $21 billion.
Even if one does not morally agree with DACA, the evidence shows that immigrants in general, and Dreamers in particular, provide material benefits to American citizens, including defense provided by the 900 Dreamers enrolled in the armed forces or awaiting boot camp.
The provisions of DACA, as articulated by Citizenship and Immigration Services, requires that applicants be in good legal standing with no major crimes on their records.
True, their entry into America was in itself a crime, but I refuse to blame Dreamers who may not remember their entry into America. I can understand the frustration some may have with illegal immigration, but a six-year-old child who was brought into the land of opportunity by their family is not a criminal and should not be treated as such.
In 1783, George Washington wrote: “America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and the persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to participate of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” Let us measure the recipients of DACA as the father of the country would have.
By the requirements of DACA, Dreamers are law-abiding people, and by providence, actively contribute to the well-being of our nation. Let us not send away Dreamers from their homes. Let us smile, and allow our fellow Americans to come out of the shadows.