In Solidarity with all Undocumented People

A Dreamer is a person who is not a documented US citizen, but is someone who grew up in the US regardless. In 2012 the Obama administration created the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) initiative, which gives Dreamers the chance to apply for temporary rights to live, work and study in the US. On September 5th, 2017 the Trump administration announced that it would be ending the DACA program in six months. DACA currently covers almost 800,000 people in the US, and reversing this policy would put all of these people at risk of deportation.

On September 5th cities around the country held rallies in support of DACA, and I attended the one in Syracuse, NY. The rally began by questioning the idea of borders:

“Dreamers fought for DACA under Obama, and they earned this status. And, before we even talk about legality and who belongs in this country, I just want to recognize one quick thing:

We are all standing on Onondaga [Native American] land. How can this country talk about “legality” when it hasn’t even recognized its own crimes?”

The conversation of the rally soon turned toward the criminal justice system in America.

“We need to talk about the criminalization process [in America], and who has the power to criminalize people. This is not just an issue of who is a citizen and “non-citizen”. We need to think about the fact that immigrant detention centers is a subset of the broader prison industrial complex that has been oppressing people of color whether they are citizens or not.”

In 1996 the Clinton administration made it easier to criminalize and deport immigrants, and the rhetoric of “going after the criminals” has been used ever since . Every single administration since then has added to that level of criminalization, including the Obama administration.

“I don’t want to hear how ‘it was so great under Obama.’ It was awful under Obama. Obama deported more people than any other president. It’s not solely on him, but you best believe that I’m holding him responsible for that. People talk about ‘sanctuary cities’ as being an example of how lax Obama was on immigration. But that’s absolute bullshit. The reason that allies created sanctuary legislation under Obama was because of how hard it was under Obama.”

The speakers then tied the idea of the prison industrial complex in America racism in the country.

“Let’s be clear about this. This is an attack on people of color. I started to talk to my friends with the Black Lives Matter movement, and we started to make those connections, and build solidarity between movements.

This is about who has the rights to criminalize us, and who profits from criminalizes us. They are making money off the pain and misery of families. And I’m sorry, but that’s fucked up.”

This war on immigrants has been going on for many years, but it didn’t start with Trump. Trump is the logical conclusion, as one of the speakers at the rally explained.

“I myself am undocumented, but I’m ashamed of this country by proxy. I am. I really am. I moved here twenty years ago and I’ve never seen it be this bad. Last winter, there were undocumented immigrants who trudged through the snow all the way to Canada because they couldn’t stand living in this country anymore.

So this is where we are at now, we have refugees from the so called land of immigrants- America.”

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midwestern librarian, writer, activist

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