The status quo is unbearable. So is the guilt of selling other immigrants out.
On Capitol Hill, it all looks so easy. The White House offered Congress a tradeoff: agree to cuts in future family-based immigration and a tightening of asylum law, in exchange for allowing 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children (including the 690,000 immigrants affected by President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) to become legal immigrants and ultimately United States citizens.
To President Trump, the proposal represents a compassionate solution for the generation of immigrants known as DREAMers, one Democrats could only reject if they didn’t really care about immigrants after all. To Democrats — and to national immigrant-rights groups, including those led by DREAMers themselves — it’s a total nonstarter, an artifact of white nationalism not even worth considering.
But to DACA recipients around the country, the debate is wrenching to follow. And the choice being presented — a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers in exchange for harsh limits on future immigration — isn’t easy at all.
It’s “very stressful,” confided DACA recipient Vella Tembe. “We have so many questions still and are quite worried,” wrote Skylar Roush (whose girlfriend is protected under DACA).
As more than one DACA recipient put it, the whole situation — living without the certainty that legal status would provide while having to follow from afar the debate over their futures — “sucks.”
It’s not that DACA recipients are split over the White House’s proposal itself — ultimately, most agree it’s unacceptable. But that doesn’t make it any less painful a decision to make, especially for a generation of immigrants weary (and wary) after years of political fights with little to show for them.