Posted by: Floyd J Fernandez, J.D. | September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017: Ignorance & Hope

DACA Cartoon

Today I spent time making a presentation at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, in which I discussed the options young immigrants have in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s announcement that the DACA (Deferred Action for Young Arrivals) Program would be phased out in 6 months, by March 5, 2018. The program was at a rally sponsored by the Associated Student Government, and the Political Science Department at COC. About 250 students, faculty and visitors were there, hearing speakers and individuals testifying about the fear and uncertainty faced by those affected by the decision to end DACA’s benefit in six months.

My job was to tell them about five main option areas of future benefit for DACA benefit holders, whether students or those who are in the work force: possible immediate relative petitions (spouses and parents who are U.S. Citizens); those who are eligible under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to either petition for legal residence on their own, and those who are able to self-petition as victims of crime under the U Visa program; those who may be eligible for asylum or withholding of removal; those who are eligible as juvenile arrivals under the SIJS Program to obtain green card status; and those who are eligible to obtain status through the old section 245(i) amnesty or through the unlawful domestic presence waiver program.

However, while I covered those subject areas, I wanted to make this presentation a humanized one. So I shared my own perspective as the grandson of an illegal immigrant from Spain, and the experiences of humble people obtaining, or trying to obtain, relief from being deported from the USA, and representing them in the process of making their cases. I found myself sounding more like a preacher than like a legal advocate, but hoped that it wasn’t too disconcerting. The fact is, it is silly how so many people see these humble people, just trying to make a life here, in accordance with the promise of this country, treated like they are some kind of a threat to the Republic.

They are not. And it is time to tell people so. The fact is, in the case of the myth of immigrants, stealing American jobs, that those are jobs offered by willing employers, to people whose fault is the need to work by the sweat of their brow. They are here because they were offered the opportunity by those with jobs Americans will not take. They are here because their countries are violent, riven with war and criminal violence of a degree that the worst American urban ghettos do not come close to match. They are here because they believed that this country has promise, a promise that is as old as this land.

Unfortunately, the fear of the stranger, the suspicion of what they would bring, the mistrust concerning their intentions, marking them as “the Other,” is older than the Republic as well. From the suspicion of impoverished English workers who started as indentured servants, to slaves, to German immigrants, Irish immigrants, French Hugenouts, Catholics from a dozen nations, to Scandanavians, to Chinese and Japanese railroad laborers, to Eastern Europeans, Jews and Italians. They all have their history of being branded as a threat, and all in turn do the branding. And then all have a legacy to live down, of being part of the promise, and as part of the dashing of hopes and disillusionment.

When the DACA issue is resolved, which it appears to be happening, a great question will be answered: “Will the concept of “one nation under God” be fulfilled? I will write about that next time.

In the meantime, it appears that the courts and the agencies and the Congress and the White House are all performing the predictable dance of democracy in a time of moral decadence. Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin was prophetic. We forgot God, and we are now declining into our own petty arguments and our own narrow interests, and our noble experiment may prove no better than that of the builders of Babel.

Hope? I would like a reason for it. I may have it, but it needs more evidence for it to get full flower.

—Consigiliari Pacifica—


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