Trump’s war on the ‘Dreamers’ won’t make America great again

One student is a promising biochemist spending her summer on a prestigious undergraduate research internship at Stanford University.

Another is a business major equally at home displaying her management skills in campus meetings or on the soccer field as a team captain. Others are aspiring cardiologists, future journalists, teachers and advocates for children with developmental disabilities.

They have published articles, won academic awards, participated in White House conferences.

As president of Trinity Washington University, I’m proud to call all of these young women my students. All of them are “Dreamers,” young people who came to the United States as children with their families.

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Most fled unimaginable violence and oppression in their home countries. Through a private scholarship program, 45 Dreamers are enrolled at Trinity. These undocumented immigrants may lack official legal immigration status, but they are, in every other way, proudly American.

 

“The U.S. is where I have grown up, it’s where my best friends live,” one Trinity Dreamer wrote. “I want to be the best, most productive American I can be, and most immigrants want the same thing.”

Sadly, just a few miles away from our campus, President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have doubled down on anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. While the Trump administration has not rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era policy that offers modest protection for Dreamers to work and go to school, a group of ten state attorneys general recently pledged to force President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE’s hand by vowing to sue the administration if it does not end DACA by September.

The U.S. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants DOJ wades into archdiocese fight for ads on DC buses Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector MORE and Members of Congress who want the Trump administration to repeal DACA often demonize these young men and women as criminals, using isolated examples to disparage an entire group. Rather than applauding the research biochemist or aspiring CEO as emblematic of how young immigrants are striving to help make America great, politicians distort the facts and pander to the worst instincts of voters.

Fear has been a constant companion for my students and other Dreamers since the 2016 election. Many are afraid they will be deported to a country they have never called home, or watch a family member dragged away to a detention center.

The same politicians who claim to be ardently “pro-life” think nothing of tearing families apart, deporting people to unspeakable violence and poverty.

Many of these lawmakers advocating for inhumane policies are Catholic, including Speaker of the House Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.). As a Catholic university, Trinity lives our church’s values. We believe every immigrant has sacred dignity. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders have urged Members of Congress from both parties to protect these young Dreamers.

Most of us are Americans because some courageous men and women set off from foreign shores before us, making perilous journeys to this country in search of better lives. The American dream of liberty and prosperity for all inspired our Founders and fueled the economic engines that made the United States the most advanced nation in world history.

At a time when U.S. global influence is waning, the Trump administration would do well to reject reckless calls to end DACA.

By protecting and supporting today’s Dreamers, we will do our part in writing the inspiring story of how immigrants have always borne witness to the ever-renewable promise of America’s greatness.

Patricia McGuire is the president of Trinity Washington University.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.