With Trump Ending DACA, Start Paying Attention to What Democrats Actually Do
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced its phasing out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program beginning on March 5, 2018, meaning that 800,000 undocumented children will be put at greater risk of deportation in the future. President Trump has called on Congress to act to replace DACA with legislation. These children may or may not be at immediate risk, but the degree to which our President and the Republican Party are comfortable with playing with the lives of undocumented children is sickening and cause for major alarm. It reflects the decades-long trend of Republicans saying that they will do these cruel things to people and then actually doing those things.
But let’s not forget about that other party that has power in Washington. The Democrats for those same decades have campaigned (at least at a national level) on providing basic human dignity to marginalized people such as immigrants. They say that people deserve to live comfortably. However, the track record of the Democratic Party is the complete opposite of its rhetoric.
While it’s sickening the level at which Republicans openly put the lives of millions at home and billions worldwide at risk, it’s also sickening the level at which Democrats will say one thing and do another while their hardcore devotees take what they say as gospel and ignore what they actually do. Democrats get a free pass to say whatever they want without doing anything that their voters actually want because they have the power to stifle any and all electoral competition from the left through ballot access and campaign finance laws.
It’s how Neera Tanden of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress gets to write in favor of a $15/hr minimum wage in Teen Vogue (a magazine that people have started praising recently for being socially aware) while she voted in 2016 to reject $15/hr as part of the Democratic Party platform.
It’s how mainstream Democrats can criticize the oppression of women and LGBTQ+ people while gleefully supporting Obama (and now Trump) funding and arming Saudi Arabia as it massacres Yemen, where there is no doubt that women and LGBTQ+ people exist.
It’s how Nancy Pelosi can claim to be pro-choice while still supporting Democratic candidates who are anti-choice.
Finally, and most important to this discussion, it’s how Barack Obama gets to write a Facebook post condemning Donald Trump for ending DACA, citing “basic decency,” while Obama’s conception of “basic decency” includes setting the record for deporting the highest number of immigrants as President and dropping 26,000 bombs on exploited countries in the Middle East and Africa in the final year of his presidency.
It goes to show that 2012 and 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein was spot on when she said the Democratic Party “fakes left” and then “marches right.” Democrats will say anything to get the votes of those people who have some semblance of compassion in their hearts. The problem is that the Democratic Party does nothing to back up their words and, in fact, runs contrary to those words at a staggering rate of consistency, while those who toe the Democratic Party line forgo their sense of compassion for the sake of winning elections (though, as 2016 showed us, this strategy has produced mixed results).
Democrats for decades have campaigned on improving immigration, but only for certain immigrants, while in the meantime making immigration much more difficult for other immigrants, such as those with criminal convictions. As many people from communities of color know, criminal convictions are not exactly a great barometer for determining the content of one’s character, considering the unjust imprisonment of many people of color in the US, especially for minor drug offenses.
One side effect of DACA is that it de facto creates a tiered immigration system that values immigrant children over their parents as well as over immigrants who do not have children. It shows that Democrats only value immigrant children who have a chance to contribute to the economy. This goes directly against the notion that a person’s worth is inherent and not dependent how much they generate for their schools or for our businesses.
This tweet from Twitter user “the masked snooze” highlights many of the double standards Democrats like Obama use in determining which people get to immigrate to the US. Obama makes a point to mention immigrants willing to serve in the military, immigrants who want to start businesses, and immigrants who could serve as religious leaders. Noticeably, these are all occupations that require immigrants to serve the interests of the US empire if they are to be deemed worthy of basic decency. Contrary to this sentiment, every immigrant, regardless of how much they’re able to serve capital and empire, is worthy of basic decency.
Children deserve a chance to immigrate to the US and deserve a chance to improve their quality of life (if the US does in fact provide that), but immigrant adults, whether or not they were convicted of a crime, deserve that chance too. All US immigrants deserve a path to citizenship if so desired. We need to work to save DACA, but we also need to work to provide a better life for all immigrants who uprooted their whole lives to come to the United States.
Democrats cannot campaign on rights for immigrants if they’re going to continue practices of deporting immigrants and putting their lives in further, unnecessary danger. The Green Party already stands for easier immigration and more open borders. Socialist and social democratic organizations like Democratic Socialists of America, Industrial Workers of the World, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Socialist Alternative are also staunchly in favor of easier immigration and more open borders, if not entirely open borders. Democrats are more than welcome to join them.
It’s time to start paying attention to what Democrats do, not just what they say. People’s lives depend on it.