DACA debate highlights the next steps for the Democratic Party.
A Monday morning protest is probably not what Representative Nancy Pelosi had in mind when she planned to speak in front of her constituents. But an immigration battleground where their family and friends fight for their lives is exactly what Dreamers expected on the day Donald Trump was elected president. Since Monday morning, a social media battle has ensued over which side should have had the right to speak.
In the midst of this debate, conducted between the full ideological spectrum of Democrats, many Facebook-prone commenters were left stumped. That’s because talking about immigration is hard.
Like many of these conflicted commenters, I have felt the pain of both sides of this battleground. I graduated from San Francisco State after 4 years of covering the student body for the school newspaper, including stories about our very active undocumented student body. I was thankful that they were so open to sharing their stories with me, despite there being a risk of their identities being publicized, and I have worried for them since last November.
I am also a Democratic activist, I sit on the board of Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and know many of the people standing behind the podium with Leader Pelosi on Monday morning. I feel conflicted about what happened, but I understand both sides of the argument. Let me tell you why.
From the voice of the Dreamers:
Under the #democratsdeport, one of the chants from the Pelosi press conference, DACA recipients have voiced their concerns of the continued policy-making strategy of using their rights as a bargaining chip. History has not been in their favor in the past decades, from President Clinton’s strict immigration policies to “Nancy and Chuck” rumored to be negotiating with a man who called undocumented immigrants “rapists, murderers, and criminals.”
For Dreamers, these negotiations are a slap in the face from what they believed would be a progressive pathway for themselves and their families. But unfortunately they don’t have another cheek to turn. Dreamers have seen their parents and friends fight to stay in the country while the United States continues to bargain for their rights. Obama’s executive order creating the DACA program was the progress they had worked towards.
Now not only is that program at risk, but they could lose their families as well. The unfortunate truth is that for undocumented Americans, there is no other option than to fight to stay in the country they were raised and the country they love.
From the voice of the Establishment:
I won’t be the first person to point out the negative effect that democracy has on the rights of minorities in America, and I definitely won’t be the last. But for representatives like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the world of politics is a straightforward question of quid pro quo. Unless they are willing to bend to the populist mentality of the Bernie-crat wing of the Democratic Party, they have no option other than to give where they can. This means, unfortunately, sacrificing the rights of the few for the rights of the many in the name of compromise.
I would bet my life that if Representative Pelosi had the option to eliminate the Republican Party completely and have the entire federal government run by shades of blue, she would. But that’s not the hand she has been dealt. After months of resisting negotiating anything with any Republican but still raking in truckloads of negative criticism, Pelosi choosing this moment says a lot about her intentions. She wants the party to recognize she’s still the master negotiator she always has been.
As I look at the two sides of the negotiating table on this issue, I see one side that protects human rights regardless of nationality, and one side that is tired of being pushed around for not doing their job. But there’s a way for these two sides to see eye to eye.
Nancy Pelosi demonstrated her ability to listen and evolve when she announced Tuesday that the party would be pursuing a “clean" Dream Act instead of negotiating to its permanence. In a way, the protest by Dreamers and the rally held by Pelosi both were effective and complemented one another. But there’s a lesson to be learned when it comes to future legislative goals of immigration for the party. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer need to put aside their master negotiating skills and understand that trading souls to the devil is no way to conduct regular business. And Dreamers can do well to remind them of this instead of dismissing the party as a whole.
During this Trumpocalypse, we need to remember that all we have is our fellow shades of blue.
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