She wanted to travel – to go to Mexico to see her grandmother, but because the time was so close to Donald Trump’s inauguration and the fear of the elimination of her DACA status, she decided it was at least safer to stay home. But what is home to her and to the thousands who had lived here most of their lives, some since infancy?
Her parents talked about Mexico as “mi pais,” my country, but she didn’t think of Mexico as her country. The only thing she really understood about Mexico was that her parents came from there and that a grandmother she barely remembered still lived there.
And how is she to face the future in what may promise to be a terrible time for her and others like her, who were not born “here” but who considered “here” to be home? As she talked about her fears of being deported to a country she did not know and, apart from her grandmother, had no real connections with, she looked at me and asked, “Why do they hate us so much?”
Good question. I have to admit I do not understand the hate, the bullying, the taunting, although it has been part of America’s national history – to our shame. We began to talk about facing the future with resolve rather than fear. Right now, there are about 526,000 cases pending in immigration court, and about 730,000 DACA recipients. Assuming that Trump wipes out DACA and about 600,000 have never been in immigration court, can you imagine what a backlog that will create?
Trump may be able to wipe out DACA but by law everyone is entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge. Facing the future means putting one’s life in order, pulling together documents, and DACA did a lot of that for its recipients already. Many have children and more than ten years in the United States so they can file for status based on the hardship to their children if deported; others have alternative means of continuing not just to stay but to contribute to a more inclusive society.
The future we face may not be as bleak as it first appears. We just need some creative minds with hearts to reach out to those who will be most affected.