Antonio Vargas is one of many young people without legal status, calling for the President to stop deporting students who came to the United States as children as a result of administrative relief for undocumented immigrants. Many like Vargas face deportation to countries that are foreign to them. They have lived in the United States for as long as they have had memories. In the battle to secure our borders, these hardly seem like the people we need to be going after, and yet they are still being sought out and persecuted, but on what grounds? In a recent interview Vargas said, "We need to take this conversation to the people who think they hate us, because they don't hate us, they just don't know us." Is this what is fueling the deportation of benign illegal immigrants? Hate, or is it something else?
We all know the routine bigoted reason behind why some Americans do not like (perhaps even hate) immigrants. Immigrants bring crime and violence to the country. They steal all of the jobs and render hard-working Americans unemployed. In the Black community we ridicule immigrants for having multiple jobs and we ostracize them by saying they think they’re better than us American born Black folk. So when we look at people like Antonio Vargas is that what we see? Are we angry with a violent Latino man with multiple jobs that he stole from American citizens while he sits on high thinking he’s better than us? That is an image that is easy to hate, but that is not Antonio Vargas and that is not most immigrants. That does not depict the immigrants who would be included under the DREAM Act.
Perhaps hate is only the secondary reason for the vehement persecution of immigrants whose only crime are the conditions under which they were brought here. Perhaps these DREAMers are simply our scapegoat. We are in economic crisis. We need someone to blame and pointing our fingers inward seems unnatural. So we point it outward. We point it at DREAMers and other immigrants and say they’re the problem (or at least part of it). When in fact, were the DREAM Act to be passed, the same immigrants we are deporting would in fact stimulate the economy with their tax dollars.
Just as children do not ask to be born, immigrant children (now adults), like Vargas did not ask to be brought here illegally and many were not of an age or in a position to object. So why are we punishing them for a crime that by our own legal standards they were too young to be consciously committing? It is criminal for us to turn them out into a country that is mostly unknown to them, and ask them to start over. Returning these students to their “native” countries is not deportation it is exile.