Law, order, and the dreamers

Put yourself in the shoes of a typical “Dreamer” — one of the hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth brought here as small chil-dren.
When you were six years old, your mother crossed the Mexican bor-der and carried you into the United States. Alt-hough you’ve been here ever since, some people say you must be deported because you’re “illegal.”

True, they might ad-mit, you had no choice about entering unlawfully. Your parents made that decision for you when you were a small child.
But now you’re grown up, they say. You became an adult when you turned 18, so you should have obeyed the law at that point and gone back to Mexico. Instead, you chose to break the law by re-maining in America. You’re not entitled to am-nesty.
Some people actually argue this. But can anyone honestly say that’s the decision they would make if they were a Dreamer?

If you’re a typical re-cipient of DACA status — that is, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — you’ve never left the Unit-ed States since you ar-rived, you speak perfect English, and the only schools you’ve gone to are American schools. You have few or no memories of Mexico (or wherever your parents came from), and the only life you know is an American life.
You graduated from an American high school and are now working an American job or studying at an American college. You’ve never been in trou-ble with the law. You work hard and pay taxes.
Like most Americans, you hope and strive for a better life for yourself and your children. (One in four Dreamers have chil-dren who are U.S. citi-zens.) This certainly de-scribes the young people I’ve helped, as a lawyer, to win DACA protection.

If you were in this situ-ation, would you choose to leave your family, friends, community, and the life you’ve led for 12 years or more — merely because someone called you “illegal”? Of course not.
In the first place, it’s not so clear that the law requires deporting these people. The Trump ad-ministration is trying to end the DACA program, which protected Dream-ers from deportation, but a federal district judge recently suspended those efforts.
But in any event, 12 years of living in our country created legitimate expectations that cannot fairly be ignored. The claim that we have no choice because “the law is the law” is a monstrous falsehood. There is always discretion to temper law with justice, mercy, and common sense.
The demand that we expel 800,000 young peo-ple who are in this situa-tion is a demand that we enshrine cruelty as na-tional policy. Each of these Dreamers is a unique hu-man being with needs, hopes, fears, and dreams. They should never be treated as pawns in some-one else’s political game.
Justice must prevail, not callous rigidity. Save the Dreamers!
Submitted by Mitchell Zim-merman, attorney