This week at President Trump’s first State of the Union address, many Democratic Senators and Congressional members brought undocumented young people as their guests, the DREAMers, youth who were brought to the country as children, many of whom have DACA protection. Some of the representatives who brought DREAMers as guests included Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and many more. In all, there were 25 DREAMers who were in attendance as guests of primarily Democrats; the only Republican to bring a DREAMer as a guest was Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida).
That over two dozen DREAMers were in the gallery shows how urgent this policy issue is. Last fall, the Trump administration announced the end of DACA, but there is currently a court order to continue renewals. The DACA/DREAMer issue has been difficult for President Trump because he has taken a hardline xenophobic position on immigration while signaling that he would have ‘heart’ with the DACA recipients. But what Trump says and does day to day can be unpredictable, and this is especially frustrating for the immigrant community and their allies.
One thing that President Trump did last night was declare, “Americans are dreamers, too,” which is a nod to his ‘America first’ agenda. This statement comes across as an attempt to reclaim the term ‘dreamer’ and to position citizens against the undocumented. Perhaps in Trump’s mind, he thinks that American citizens need to be reminded that they can dream, but DACA recipients have never taken this ability away from citizens.
At this point, Trump has announced an immigration framework that would end family based immigrant visas, end the diversity visa lottery, and increase border security (including building a wall). In exchange for these demands, Trump would provide a path for approximately 1.8 million DREAMers. The problem is that a lot of the Democrats and the grassroots immigration movement feel that Trump’s proposal is too restrictionist and they don’t even want to entertain this deal.
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