As my seven-year-old son starts second grade and gears up for his latest round of school lessons, our family also works hard to educate him as a person within a larger community. We talk about what it means to be a good person and what kind of community we want to build. This conversation has been challenging over the last year and a half as we struggled to talk about the deep conflict between our values as a family, as a community, and as a nation amid the noise of the 2016 campaign.
We have tried to teach our son to appreciate all of the many blessings he has and to acknowledge his responsibility to stand with and for others who are less privileged. As we contemplate the ominous threats to end the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, these theoretical lessons are once again part of real life for all of us. Now is the time to stand up and be heard. Our collective voices (or unfortunate silence) will define who we are as a nation for decades to come.
For five years, young aspiring members of our American family, who had been forced to live in the shadows, have been able to step out and live up to their potential in communities all across America. These young people, brought to the United States as children, are true Americans and have proven their value and worth to any who questioned it. They are worthy of living a dignified life in the place that most of us inherited by the simple accident of where we were born. They have proven their value to countless American businesses that are able to grow and prosper and, yes create more jobs for Americans, because of the unique contributions of Dreamers. They have more than paid their dues; they have earned their place.
The burden is now on us; we who understand that America has always stood tallest when it stands alongside and not against the aspirations of others. America succeeds when it acknowledges and nurtures the dreams of others. The past five years are the perfect example.
In January of this year, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan looked an aspiring DACA mother and her daughter in the eye at a CNN town hall and told her that he hoped “her future is here” in the U.S. and not to worry about deportation. Now the rubber hits the road. Now is the time for Speaker Ryan to stand up and be a worthy example to my seven year old son. It is time to stop asking the White House to keep DACA. It is time for the Speaker of the House to start telling the White House a bill is coming up for a vote on the House floor to provide a permanent solution for the Dreamer population. It is time to start telling the White House, no funding to expand the border patrol, no funding for additional ICE agents, no funding for more detention, and no talk about any border wall until a fix for Dreamers is enshrined in the law of this great nation. And for the rest of us, it’s time to demand exactly this level of leadership from the co-equal legislative branch of government since it clear that the White House is derelict in its duty to the 800,000 young Dreamers who are making America great.
The rest of the world is watching to see how our leaders and we, as individuals respond to this call. I’m selfishly less concerned about the global audience, and far more interested in what my son witnesses. What will he learn from this time in our collective history? It’s time to stand up and show him what America truly is: a place where the American Dream lives on.