“My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.” ~State of the Union Address, 2018
This was not the first that time parallels have been drawn between the “American dream” and “Dreamers:” beneficiaries of the DACA Act that affords conditional residency to immigrants that were brought to the United States as children. Indeed, the “dreamer” language was used to announce the recent termination of DACA: “Above all else, we must remember that young Americans have dreams too.”
Yes, young Americans have dreams. But young immigrants have dreams, too. DACA is not privileging the needs of immigrants at the expense of Americans; it is asserting that all people have worth and dignity, regardless of their country of origin. Creating spaces in which young Americans can pursue their dreams does not require that we deny the same opportunities to non-citizens. A policy of inclusion will only enhance the United States economically, as well as politically and socially. . A broad base of people creates a broad base of perspectives, opinions, and talents that can be leveraged to further the advancement of all. “Americans are dreamers too” is not an innocuous “America first” mindset. This is a platform that privileges the American experience at the expense of another human being’s dignity and right to exist, while ahistorically approaching the contributions immigrants have made to the United States.
The role of diversity and inclusion in the enterprise experience and national output cannot be understated, and it has significant empirical proof. To limit this, and isolate immigrants as the challenge du jour is at best a monolithic approach to national and corporate policy. Insisting that America comes first (and limiting that to those already in the “melting pot”) at the expense of everyone else is hegemonic, non-factual, and divisive in the globalized world and workforce.
“‘Americans are dreamers too’ feels like it could quickly become the ‘All Lives Matter’ of the immigration debate,” tweeted Todd Zwillich in response to Trump’s remarks. Indeed, all lives matter. All dreams matter. But the needs of privileged groups do not need to be asserted so insistently. They will be heard — without microphones, platforms, or platitudes. However, the needs of the marginalized do need to be vocalized, clearly and specifically. Again, and again. Because many of us are trying not to hear them.