When Racism Crusades as Economics: the Attack on DACA

Lauren Yu | Contributor

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by the Obama Administration in 2012, allows children brought to America by undocumented immigrant parents to temporarily avoid deportation and instead receive permission to study, work and more. As of now, 800,000 child immigrants, often referred to as DREAMers, are protected under DACA. The children of DACA are now threatened by President Trump’s administration, which has decided that the best way to address illegal immigration is to end DACA. To underline how absurd this thinking is, allow me to emphasize that revoking the statuses of these immigrant children may ultimately send them to countries where some of them have never even been. The end of DACA is less about policy or logic and much more about an ethnocentric xenophobia that is rooted in bigotry, racism, sexism and hatred.

The reasoning behind Trump’s sudden decision to end DACA stems from the conservative fear of illegal immigrants, and DREAMers’ lives will be drastically affected as a result. America will see a further increase in xenophobia and discrimination against minority groups, especially members of the LGBTQIA+ community and women due to the intense marginalization and prejudice that these groups have faced in the past. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of harassment who were once protected under DACA may never speak up simply out of fear of being “discovered” and deported. The perpetual cycle of victim-blaming and lack of reporting will continue its toxic run, and society as a whole will suffer the consequences born from ignorance and violence.

Minority women working in America under DACA will undoubtedly face an increase in workplace discrimination. Their harassers are hand-fed a safety cushion in the form of the DREAMers’ potential deportation. This situation will lead to the encouragement of workplace and academic harassment and other inappropriate behaviors that would hopefully be reported by the victims. However, due to the prospect of deportation, such hopes are squashed. Many victims who are DREAMers may refuse or be afraid to come forward due to their new status as non-United States citizens under Trump’s administration.  The same goes for transphobia and homophobia, which have been disturbingly ingrained in American culture for so long. The amount of harassment cases involving trans women is staggering — 50% of trans women are sexually assaulted — and the lack of coverage by media is even lower, but can you imagine how much more severe the cases would be if perpetrators knew fear of deportation would keep their victims silent? This is not something we as a country can allow.

Women, LGBTQIA+, and immigrant groups will all live in a constant state of paranoia until they are removed from the country when their work permits expire, and afterwards will be subject to unfamiliar and often dangerous environments. Many of these citizens are our neighbors, acquaintances and friends. For those of us who have the privilege of being United States citizens, it is our job — our responsibility — to help and do all we can. How can we as a country call ourselves the “land of the free and home of the brave” if we are only free and brave for those favored by the racially, socially and economically biased hierarchy put in place by the founding fathers centuries ago?  The societal conception of a good American is one who is honored to be a part of the United States and who has served to make it a better place — every DREAMer here on work permits has helped to make this country the economic and social powerhouse that it is. Every DREAMer is an American, down to the word’s foundational core.