The Death of the Dream

BELL VIEW—‘When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, `I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.’-Matthew 27:24 

Donald Trump, like Pilate, will not be able to wash the stain of his DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) betrayal off his tiny hands. 

Despite sending Jeff Sessions to do the dirty work, and passing the buck to Congress, we all know where this is coming from. Trump can talk about the “love” he has for the Dreamers from now till the deportations start in earnest – but Trump is no longer running this show. America has been hijacked by the angry white dudes. And they won’t stop till they’re back on top. 

Which means they’ll never stop. 

The latest talking point in support of American white supremacy is that Trump’s DACA deceit is all about the law. Obama, you see, had no constitutional authority to do what he did, so Trump’s hands were tied. He wanted to save all those sweet little illegal aliens, but he just couldn’t do it. Congress will have to save the day and do the right thing. And we all know how that’s going to work out. 

Of course, Trump’s base – the bitter, racist rump of the Confederacy that actually runs this country – wants no part of the Dreamers and their ambitious dreams. What could be a bigger threat to this whining generation of victims than a million educated, motivated young Americans ready to roll up their sleeves and change the world? That’s at least in part what’s behind the rejection of DACA. It’s not just the racism, it’s the nagging suspicion that maybe the white supremacy they were fed with their baby formula just isn’t true. 

Listen to Jeff Sessions refer to Dreamers as “illegal aliens.” But how are they “illegal?” They never violated the immigration laws. If I strap my kids into their car seats and my wife and I go rob a bank, my kids aren’t bank robbers because they were sitting in the getaway car. And how are they “aliens?” Aliens are from somewhere else – but the Dreamers are from here. 

The response to the argument that the Dreamers are neither illegal nor alien is to claim that the Dreamers violated the law when they turned 18. At that point, they should have gone back to their country of origin and “gotten in line” for legal immigration. But is there a line? Or are we imposing what amounts to a decades-long exile on these people with no guarantee of success? 

We have no comparable law that punishes innocent people based solely upon their status with permanent exile. (Photo left: DACA ‘Dreamer’) 

I have outrage overload. My connection to the Dreamers is an abstract one. It’s the connection of national kinship. Like the Dreamers, I have adopted America as my own country in my heart. True, I was born here – but the anger and the sorrow I feel is only partly based upon my compassion for people I’ve never known, and whose experience I can’t begin to understand. My anguish is personal to me. The complete destruction of everything I’ve imagined America to stand for is taking place in front of my eyes. 

Yes, I’ve had the luxury and the privilege of being able to imagine America stood for something more than brute power. I understand that America’s victims don’t feel the same sense of shock and loss that I feel. I don’t pretend to speak for them. 

I speak only for myself when I say that the death of DACA is not only a loss for the Dreamers, but for everyone who has ever considered himself an American. 


(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.)