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DACA community and allies respond to President Trump’s State of the Union

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat Protesters participate in chants and hold up signs in front of Old Main during the pro-DACA protest on Sept. 5, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump’s brief, yet powerful, State of the Union reference to "DREAMers" has drawn criticism from the DACA community and allies. 

“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,'” Trump said during his speech. “Because Americans are dreamers, too.”

DREAMers, a term derived from the DREAM Act, has been used to describe a generation of undocumented immigrants that were brought to the United States as children. 

Many DREAMers and their supporters believe that Trump’s phrase “Americans are dreamers, too,” was a direct attempt to undermine what the term DREAMers means.

Trump ended DACA last September, but left time for Congress to pass legislation to help DREAMers. Congress has made little progress on the matter so far.

RELATED: Local panel of voters judges Trump's State of the Union

Dario Andrade Mendoza, DACA student and Communications Co-Director of ScholarshipsAZ, likened Trump’s statement to how many have turned the phrase “Black Lives Matter” into “All Lives Matter.” 

“When [Black Lives Matter] comes up in conversation, people get uncomfortable because they don’t want to see the reality. They start saying 'All Lives Matter' and take away from the dialogue to feel more comfortable, and in a way they dismiss the conversation,” Andrade Mendoza said. “[Trump] was trying to do the same thing when talking about DACA.”

In an interview with the Daily Wildcat, political science senior Enrico Trevisani echoed that sentiment. 

“All Americans have dreams, but not all folks’ dreams are being crushed by laws and a broken immigration system. It’s sort of a false equivalency,” Trevisani said. “[The president] said a lot to divide, and in some cases to associate undocumented immigrants with violent criminals. For a lot of folks here in Tucson, particularly in immigrant communities, the speech didn’t do a lot to help them sleep better at night.” 

RELATED: OPINION: Immigration rhetoric dehumanizes undocumented people

Andrade Mendoza explained why the term DREAMer is so important.

“The idea of being a DREAMer is that you don’t have a permanent status or a set future here like Americans do,” Andrade Mendoza said. “It’s very hard to get the same status as American citizenship, and Trump saying that takes away from the entire DREAMer movement.”

Backlash and countermovements are common with controversial subjects like DACA and DREAMers. “There’s always backlash and pushback,” Andrade Mendoza said. "People fail to even understand the reality [of DREAMers] and what’s happening"

Andrade Mendoza said he would describe DREAMers as just normal people.

“We’re just ordinary people trying to make it,” Andrade Mendoza said. "We’re resilient. It’s difficult to accomplish things when there are systems in place preventing you from doing them."

Even with DACA, students do not get financial aid or many other benefits often funded by American tax payers.

“We’ve been fighting for over a decade for many things that people take for granted like getting a driver license, being able to work, getting scholarships and going to school," Andrade Mendoza said. "It’s important to recognize how resilient and brave the [undocumented] population is.”


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