President Trump has rescinded DACA, halting any new applications not yet submitted and creating a six-month window for final renewals as well as congressional action. At this moment, the undocumented community is again at the mercy of the corporatized representatives in Congress. UndoCU sends its love and solidarity to our undocumented family who, for so long, has seen their humanity discarded in the name of profit and who will continue to face harassment and scrutiny from a white supremacist administration. To preserve our humanity in the coming months, our understanding of the immigration debate must be reconstructed.
To our allies, thank you for messages of support during this strenuous time. To faculty and staff, thank you for the emails affirming support. To campus organizers, thank you for resisting fascism and decolonizing campus as much as you can. To Movimiento Cosecha and the New York State Youth Leadership Council, thank you for organizing immediate actions in response to the DACA rescission. We have a lot of work to do, and we do not feel alone as we prepare to prosper during our second year at Columbia University.
The intensity of the DACA decisions has many asking, “What’s next?”, but to answer that, we have to understand how we got here. DACA, which grants us a work permit and prevents us from facing deportation, was a temporary solution following the Republican sabotage of the 2010 DREAM Act, a sensible piece of legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship but was killed by racist pandering and the seeming pursuit of political advantage. In the years since DACA’s inception in 2012, various efforts have been made in Congress to provide a path to citizenship for nearly one million undocumented youths. What is important to remember is that each time, however, conservatives have shut down all proposals in order to repurpose immigration reform for themselves. In the 2016 election, that worked regrettably well. This is why UndoCU implores its allies to understand the immigration debate as part of a larger discussion on institutional white supremacy, and it is the duty of those privileged enough to be given a voice to speak for those who have none.
With identities and privileges considered, we understand that the anti-immigrant movement is a tool of cultural hegemony preservation through the dehumanization of undocumented people by the hands of America’s elite. Anti-immigrant organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform have long had wealthy donors who, despite talk of “law and order,” have made it clear that their main interest is keeping America as white as possible. The actors behind anti-immigrant sentiment have long benefited from anonymity, which is why plotagainstdaca.com has become a tool to uncover America’s most hateful people and organizations. It is vital that you as an undocumented person, or an ally, be fully informed about who we are up against as our fight edges closer to legislative action.
Trump’s six-month deadline is meant to put pressure on Congress to pass tentative legislation that had been proposed before his memorandum, such as the DREAM Act of 2017, the Hope Act, the RAC Act, and the BRIDGE Act. It is inevitable that this majority Republican administration will seek to further dehumanize us by using us as bargaining chips to procure funding of Trump’s border wall. We want to make this clear: The wall is a symbol of white supremacy and a misappropriation of government funds for the simple satisfaction of racist profit. Further militarization of the border, as well as detention center grants will also be put on the table in exchange for any legislative relief for undocumented youths. There are two simple sides to the immigration debate: us, undocumented communities and immigrants of all types and those who stand with us, and white supremacists holding tiki torches. Leave no room for doubt or an absolutist understanding of freedom of speech—that approach has caused the deaths of countless bodies of color at the hands of the state and enables the ongoing spike in hate crimes.
We ask our community and our allies to keep their eyes open for the manipulation of free speech rhetoric that will be used against immigrant communities to justify predatory policies that target the approximately 800,000 DACA recipients. To believe that Trump’s decision to end DACA is a reflection of his own moral failings is not productive as it disregards the larger incentives of institutional racism: Private prisons have been banking on “crimmigration” for years. This administration has pulled the “crimmigration” string so shamelessly and successfully, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has felt free to associate unauthorized immigration with terrorism. Expect right wing media to continue speaking of MS-13 when discussing immigration, expect the conflation of immigration with terrorism, and expect a further demonization of any single immigrant as representative of the entire group. Being aware of the strategy behind this rhetoric removes its legitimacy and, consequently, its unjustifiable power in the immigration conversation.
As we try to stay calm in these challenging upcoming months, we ask that our community and allies address how they come to the defense of undocumented youths. Too often the defense comes down to our economic benefits for the whole country—our labor power, our work ethic, and so on. This approach further dehumanizes us as mere numbers and profit to be missed out on.
Undocumented people deserve human decency in America, just like any other human body no matter their economic output. Additionally, the “illegality through no fault of their own” argument dehumanizes our parents and guardians, and criminalizes migration altogether. UndoCU affirms the belief that migration is a human right, particularly a human right for those fleeing their home countries by consequence of disastrous American imperialism and its lasting effects.
As always, UndoCU stands as an ally of communities of color in the United States and persecuted communities internationally. The cultural and financial incentives of anti-immigrant rhetoric are not endemic to the United States, but instead translate to their own versions of hatred in other countries. White supremacy is global; European colonization never ended; anti-blackness was and still is a vital part of many countries’ economies. Undocumented immigrants are by no means the final frontier of human rights movements in the United States.
The Undocumented Student Initiative (UndoCU) is Columbia’s first formal undocumented student group comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students. For updates, like their Facebook page.
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