Don’t use the good vs. bad immigrant narrative to save DACA


Photo by Max Herman

We have always known DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is temporary. As we try everything to save it, we must refuse the good vs. bad immigrant narrative. We need to understand that immigrants have been criminalized because of the color of our skin and economic status.

I know an 18 year old that did not qualify for DACA because he is not the exemplary “Dreamer.” While many of his actions were his own choices (let’s talk about the adolescent brain and its development later), he was still a victim of an elitist and racist system that rewards complying with a very narrow definition of success. His immigration status exacerbated the issues he experienced: He didn’t have access to adequate mental health care (he suffers from depression and bipolar disorder), and he grew up in a low-income family, in an under-resourced school district in a racist suburban city. Now, you wouldn’t know about his personal story if you asked an immigration officer. All you would know is that he doesn’t fit the “good immigrant” criteria, a criteria that is subjective and arbitrary.

We need to understand that the good vs. bad immigrant narrative thrives because we are ignorant of all the ways in which capitalism and racism are meant to keep us at odds with each other. Good vs. bad is a way to divide us to ensure we continue to be second-class citizens.

Please don’t defend DACA because recipients are “good members of society” or because “it isn’t their fault that they were brought here” or because “they contribute to our economy.”

Defend DACA because no one deserves that their existence is determined by a Social Security number, or lack of. Fight for immigrant rights because the reasons people migrate are tied to a history of colonization and exploitation of our countries of origin. Fight for immigrants because we are human beings that deserve to be treated as such. Don’t fight for me because I’m “deserving.” Fight for my brother because he is more vulnerable than I am.

Quick Takes are short opinion pieces on racial and social justice issues of the day. This commentary was originally posted on Facebook.