October 3, 2017

GUEST ROOM | A Defense of DACA

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A few weeks ago, the Trump administration declared its intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, giving Congress six months to act on it. As someone who arrived in the United States as a seventh grader, I cannot and will not remain silent.

This decision jeopardizes the lives of nearly 800,000 who came to this country. Their families seek new careers, new beginnings and for some, a safe haven. Many have arrived in the United States in hopes of a better education. These people — relentlessly pursuing a better life — view America as a land of opportunity because it has given them many options that might not have been available in their countries. By ending DACA, we are not only denying these “dreamers” a chance to lead normal lives, but also redefining our values as a nation for the worse.

Like many of my classmates at Harvard, where I am a graduate student, and Cornell, I was not born in this country. I spent the first 12 years of my life in India. Fortunately, I was able to attend a good school; however, many children my age were required to work 10 to 12 hours a day to help their families make ends meet. This is why I have always valued and prioritized my education. In 2007, my father, at age 40, made a bold decision to leave family and friends in India behind and move to this country. Since then, the opportunities that this country has given me have been invaluable. I have had the freedom to pursue my interest in science and medicine not only through a world-class education, but also through research and access to programs, which simply would not have been possible in most parts of India.

The repercussions of this devastating decision will reverberate for years to come for all of us. Many of the people who come to this country are students. Some even pursuing careers in science or medicine. Like many other aspiring scientists and physicians, they are willing to make many sacrifices for the betterment of human health in their communities and the world. Denying them the access to an honest living through hard work is harsh and unjust. It also deprives this country — and the world — of valuable talent and human potential.

I believe that it is possible to arrive at a pragmatic and humane legislative solution that will protect the Dreamers. Many of these people identity as Americans, and some have never known a country besides ours. This matter needs to be reassessed with the realization that the Dreamers do not pose a threat to our national security; indeed, many of them are a gift to our country. They are valuable members of our society, who deserve every right that we claim as Americans.

I am gravely concerned and unsatisfied by this decision. More importantly, I fear the trajectory this administration is taking. Even as a citizen, I fear that my identity as an American-Indian could one day raise questions of deportation.

I want to encourage more people to speak up. And I want those affected by the potential DACA repeal to know that we respect and empathize with the battle they are engaged in. In this moment, the least we can offer the Dreamers is our unwavering support and a genuine sense of unity.

It seems possible and clear that this issue should receive bipartisan support. Failure to arrive at a common-sense solution is a threat to our nation and to our collective humanity.

 

Sangrag Ganguli ’17 is a graduate of Cornell University. Guest Room appears periodically this semester. 

  • Eunice Richards

    What the taxpayers have paid because of illegal immigration is the real crime.What I find most interesting is the all out BLITZ by the Democrats, MSM, every faculty member at any university in the country fighting to the death for
    illegal aliens? yes they put a warm and fuzzy name on it “Dreamers.” and no one seem to wonder why? future voters? can you imagine the Democrats ever being this interested or motivated in issues involving citizens!
    There is an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients in the US. That is 800,000 jobs American Citizens don’t have or will be in competition for.

    The MSM and Democrats would have us believe that all 800 thousand are not taking jobs Americans want (we’ve heard that lie for many years now.) This is another falsehood told to the American people. Democrats have actually changed the language. It’s not illegal alien its “Immigrant.” (like the lie there just ‘Kids”) there not all picking strawberries they take great Jobs. Good enough jobs to buy homes put their kids through college.

    Why must the citizens of our country have competition for jobs, education in their own country from foreign
    nationals? Now Democrats and illegal alien activists admit DACA recipients have great jobs,are buying homes, paying taxes.

    The GOAL, motivation (Democrats just haven’t figured this out yet) is for the American citizens to be employed, sending their kids to college, buying homes andpaying taxes. It’s not the responsibility of the citizens of this
    country to support, educate citizens from other country’s. Deportation will save jobs and decrease the expense of illegal aliens. There is also an incredible public safety issues.

    “Some” of the costs of illegal immigration.

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien.

    *Now city, and state officials are appropriating millions of taxpayer dollars for legal fees to to file law suits and in defense of illegal aliens being deported.

    *2012 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is getting involved in our politics.

    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. Does not include local jails and State Prisons. At
    $21,000 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison—U do the math.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens, I repeat 3 MILLION a DAY to process Illegals in the Criminal justice system.

    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps),WIC, & free school lunches.

  • Blak Cofie

    What the taxpayers have paid because of illegal immigration is the real crime.What I find most interesting is the all out BLITZ by the Democrats,MSM, every faculty member at any university in the country fighting to
    the death for illegal aliens? yes they put a warm and fuzzy name on it “Dreamers.” and no one seem to wonder why? future voters? can you imagine the Democrats ever being this interested or motivated in issues involving citizens! There is an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients in the US. That is 800,000 jobs American citizens don’t have or will be in competition for. The MSM and Democrats would have us believe that all 800 thousand are not taking jobs Americans want (we’ve heard that lie for many years now.) This is another falsehood told to the American people. Democrats have actually changed the language. It’s not illegal alien its “Immigrant.” (like the lie there just ‘Kids”) there not all picking strawberries they take great Jobs. Good enough jobs to buy homes
    put their kids through college.Why must the citizens of our country have competition for jobs, education in their own country from foreign nationals? Now Democrats and illegal alien activists admit DACA recipients have great jobs,are buying homes, paying taxes.

    The GOAL, motivation (Democrats just haven’t figured this out yet) is for the American citizens to be employed, sending their kids to college, buying homes and paying taxes. It’s not the responsibility of the citizens of this country to support, educate citizens from other country’s. Deportation will save jobs and decrease the expense of illegal aliens. There is also an incredible public safety issues.

    “Some” of the costs of illegal immigration.

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien.
    *Currently city, and state officials are appropriating millions of taxpayer dollars for legal fees to to file law suits and in defense of illegal aliens being deported.
    *2012 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is
    getting involved in our politics.
    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. Does not include local jails and State
    Prisons. At $21,000 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison—U dothe math.
    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens, I repeat 3 MILLION a DAY to process Illegals in the Criminal justice system.
    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps),WIC, & free school lunches.

  • George Glass

    Why is it so hard for you to understand that this is not your country? Funny how there is all this talk about “white entitlement,” when it seems it is non-citizens from India, Mexico, etc. are the most entitled brats of all.

    Funny how we celebrate Gandhi for demanding all White people leave India (India for Indians) yet America shouldn’t be allowed to show its own citizens preferential treatment when it comes to education, housing, employment, etc.

    • New Yorker

      what makes you such a model “citizen,” Georgie? You’re American by accident of birth. You haven’t done anything to earn it.

  • George Glass

    If Dreamers are such an asset, I’m sure China and India will be fighting over who gets them. Maybe all those Mexican Dreamers with a twinkle in their eye and a song in their heart can get a scholarship to Tsinghua University.

    Oh right, it’s only acceptable when non-white nations discriminate in favor of their own people.

  • George Glass

    America doesn’t exist to offer options and opportunities to people elsewhere in the world. America is no longer an empty wilderness. It is a country with 300 million of its own people. It has every right to look after its own people first.

  • George Glass

    “Many of these people identity as Americans.”

    I identify as Chinese. My soul is Asian. I’ll just sneak across the border into China. Totally cool, right? Maybe start demanding admission to Peking University.

  • George Glass

    “Many of the people who come to this country are students.”

    Yes, and that’s the problem. That is why the cost of college tuition keeps increasing every single year. Because there’s a never ending global demand for American education, the price never drops. Supply and demand.

  • George Glass

    It is sickening how entitled foreigners are. A truly sickening and repulsive mindset. They think America belongs to them all the while screeching Autistically about “white privilege.”

    Why no talk about Asian privilege in China or India? So only non-white countries are allowed to privilege their own people?

  • Matthew_KB

    For the commentator George Glass, a point of information: the author mentions that he is a citizen – and that fact makes USA as much his country as it is yours or any other US citizen’s. And regarding entitlement- caste distinctions being what they are, a Ganguli would have been much, much more entitled relative to other Indians in West Bengal than he is relative to other Americans in USA. Having taught in India, UK and USA, I have witnessed up close how efficiently the Americans are able to cherry-pick the best and the brightest of the world, teaching them not merely to mug up and to reproduce content on cue but actually to think and to write critically and assertively. The American educational system, by and large, enables creativity whereas the Indian system (which hasn’t changed essentially since Macaulay) stifles it. Many of USA’s foreign students – despite the American lumpenproletariat’s increasingly xenophobic rhetoric and policy – choose to remain and contribute to American industry, and along the way contribute an invaluable global perspective to their native-born peers. This (relative) openness is why the Americans continue to do so well, even under Mr Trump, even as Brexit UK under Mrs May and India under Mr Modi succumb to right-wing identity politics. Pull up the drawbridge and you’ll only be besieging yourselves.