Turning Point: Prototypes for a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States are unveiled.
September brought great sadness, frustration and anger when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, called on Congress to phase out DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that assured the future of around 800,000 children from all over the world who are living in the United States, protecting them from deportation. Making up nearly 80 percent of that figure, Mexicans will be disproportionately affected by an end to the program.
Latinos, particularly Mexicans, have been the main targets of President Trump’s constant racial attacks. According to Trump, we are guilty of all sorts of criminal acts. We have been called rapists and drug traffickers and thieves who steal American jobs. He has demanded that we pay for a wall to be built between our two nations that would prevent us from entering the United States.
Many of these DACA recipients arrived as babies or toddlers and know no other home, yet they still acknowledge their birthplace and cherish their mother nation, adopting proud hybrid identities.
Every country has its own Dreamers, as these young immigrants are known. As they grow up, study, build businesses and exchange ideas, they help fortify a globalized world where cultures mix.
The residents of this modern world order endorse a new kind of citizenship and democracy. They don’t settle for voting, but are eager to protest when they believe they are being treated unjustly. They strive for self-sustaining economic growth. They are concerned with the major shifts in climate around the planet.
These citizens of the world know their value. Regardless of skin color, upbringing or nationality, they are able to thrive in different types of environments. We see examples every day of these evolved people, who are fighting to end racism and bring equality, inclusion and representation to their governments.
Immigration is nuanced and complicated, and there is no simple answer for how a government should deal with the issues of national security. Anyone who has ever led a nation, myself included, understands the priority of keeping citizens safe. The answer, though, is not to punish the men and women whose admiration and dedication to a country has served as the catalyst for their hard work and success.
We have heard many stories of young people arriving in America with their parents, whose dreams of providing the best life possible for their children emboldened them to risk a hazardous border crossing into unknown territory. Those young people have gone on to acquire educations, careers and communities; helped their parents to fill out job applications and medical forms in English; and sent aid and guidance back to their birthplaces. They aren’t trying to hurt their adopted country — just the opposite. They’re just looking to be recognized.
America is so admired because of what it seems to represent: equality and opportunity and heterogeneity. Rescinding DACA would be a huge step backward for a nation that has always prided itself on its forbearance. The potential damage to hundreds of thousands of lives is unquantifiable, and the upside is nonexistent. This change would punish the people who wanted so badly to live in a country that they risked everything they had to get there.
If the future is bringing the notion of a global identity, and countries without borders, it remains imperative that we prioritize the preservation and celebration of our cultural traditions. Our customs provide us with an exciting mix of ideas, experiences and stories to contribute.
As we honor what each individual brings to the table by way of their background, the term “minority” will become an anachronism. Each person has a unique story and skill set, effectively making all of us equal in our potential contributions to society.
Conservative movements have risen in opposition to this cultural blending, not only in America, but all over the world, from the Brexit efforts in the U.K. to the far right party Alternative for Germany’s presence in this year’s election. Rapid change and disruption have brought instability and concern, and in response conservative leaders are promising tranquillity and security through protectionism and excessive nationalism.
We cannot resort to this old answer to a new struggle. It is no longer feasible to shut our doors in a world that is commingled politically, economically, socially and culturally. Banning men and women from entering a country based on their religion is bigoted and hateful. Denying refugees and those seeking asylum the opportunities many of our countries are equipped to provide them is needlessly cruel and, as in the case of DACA, only serves to hurt our most vulnerable fellow humans.
Vicente Fox Quesada was the President of Mexico from 2000 to 2006.
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate