Monday, January 29, 2018

Ransom note: ‘Give me my wall or they get it’

In scary fiction from yesteryear, the Wicked Witch of the West held a young Kansas girl's life in limbo behind castle walls because she wanted her magic shoes.

In scarier reality this year, the Wicked SOB of the East holds the lives of 790,000 young Americans in limbo because he wants his wall.

Donald Trump admits it would be wrong to deport those protected from deportation under Barack Obama's brave and compassionate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA.

But, sadly for them, (1) they have brown skin, and (2) this is something Obama did. And (3) for Donald Trump, what's "wrong" changes from day to day. Hence, the wicked SOB cannot simply do the right thing. He has to pin a ransom to young people's fates.

That first consideration, the color of their skin, is, of course, the main consideration of Trump's racist base. We know already that if DACA pertained to youth from Norway, this wouldn't be an issue.

Trump says a border wall will be the cost of freeing these young Americans – yes, as American as any of us. He also says that the cost of freeing them would include the deportation of their parents -- contrary to a bipartisan Senate bill (Durbin-Graham) that would grant permanent status to DACA beneficiaries and allow their parents to stay on renewable permits.

What a deal. What a disgrace.

At this point I think of a young woman who shared her story with me about coming to America and how DACA factors into her life.

She's not sure where she entered the country -- somewhere along the Arizona border, maybe. It hardly matters.

She was pulled along in the heat, panting, her stubby legs trying to keep up, her heart telling her mind: Don't let go.

She was 5.

She wrote about these things for me a few semesters ago in an essay for a college English class I teach.

I wonder where and what she is today. A college graduate, most likely. A working woman with children of her own.

One thing is certain: Today she is frantic. The place she's known as home for all of her life is on the brink of sending her "back" -- to a place she's never known. To Trump supporters, she is a lawbreaker and does not belong here.



Trump tells us he knows the meaning of investments. Well, every one of the 790,000 of the people sheltered from deportation by DACA is exactly that: an investment.

Every one of them has been educated in our schools. Every one has been nurtured by our culture. Many have served in the military. Almost all are productive members of our workforce.

If we send them "back" to a place they've never known, aside from being shamefully mean, we deprive ourselves of the gifts they offer. As a society, we are poorer in massive multiples.

Actually, this has been quantified. The Center for American Progress this year estimated that the loss of all DACA workers would reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by $433 million over the next 10 years.

Shame on us, however, if all we do is masticate this matter down to a sack of coins.

For those who can't stomach the notion of amnesty for these "illegals": Remember that Ronald Reagan signed a measure granting amnesty for millions of people who had been in the country illegally for years.

It's encouraging to see a bipartisan group call for an extension of DACA while supporting the DREAM Act, which provides a path to citizenship for people like the young lady I know who still feels the tug of the American Dream in her hand.

Trump says he cares about people like her. What a joke. What he cares about is his castle and a wicked wall.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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