Yesterday, Democrats abandoned Dreamers and broke my heart (again)

In December 2010, I watched, teary-eyed and broken-hearted, as the DREAM Act died in the Senate, five votes short of the 60 it needed to become law. I was 18, college-bound, and undocumented. That day, it felt like my dreams were shattered. I sincerely believed Democrats would fight for me. I believed they were on my side. Yesterday, I watched Democrats agree to reopen the federal government without securing protections for Dreamers, abandoning migrants despite all of their promises and assurances. And my heart broke all over again.

In 2010, five Senate Democrats voted against the DREAM Act. If they had voted “yes,” Dreamers like me would have had a path to citizenship eight years ago. Instead, because of their refusal to take a stand, we organized and pushed back, pressuring the Obama Administration to create Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a form of legal protection for Dreamers, albeit a temporary one.

On Saturday, Democrats shut down the government, claiming they would do everything in their power to protect Dreamers. A mere three days later, a majority of Democrats voted to end the shutdown based on Mitch McConnell’s flimsy commitment to “proceed to an immigration bill soon” (which, by the way, he said had to include funding for the wall and “would not include amnesty.”) In the meantime, every day that Congress fails to vote on a DREAM Act, an average of 122 immigrants lose their DACA status.

For many, including myself, yesterday was a painful reminder that when push comes to shove, Democrats will turn their backs on us every single time. Yesterday, Dreamers’ lives were put in jeopardy. Yesterday, the Democrats made (another) deal with the devil. Yesterday, they proved yet again that they are led by cowardly, spineless legislators who are more scared about losing midterm elections than they are about the inevitable deportation, detention, and jailing of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

Being undocumented cut my childhood short, making me aware early on that my family, and people like us, were unwanted and undesirable in the eyes of the state. Being undocumented limited my educational opportunities and forced me to live in the shadows for the majority of my life. Yet, this piece is not an appeal for you to recognize my humanity or the humanity of DACA recipients. This piece is about heartbreak and heartache, and the people who are responsible for it. Time and time again, Democrats toy with immigrants’ emotions and gamble with our lives. This piece is about the sting of betrayal.

Yesterday, I was made to relive the trauma of 2010 and the trauma of a childhood marred by the crime of existing in amerikkka. I was reminded that being undocumented means being suspended in a permanent state of waiting, hoping, and wishing. This is not to say we are not fighting, or that we are passive and voiceless. Quite the opposite: immigrants have fought, organized, and demanded justice for years. Yet, again and again, the people who are supposed to have our backs, who hug us when we lobby in their government offices and shed tears with us when we tell them our stories, let us down and break our hearts.

Yesterday, Democrats caved to Republican pressures and entrusted the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants to a white supremacist, racist party. I shouldn’t be surprised—none of us should be. We’ve lived through their betrayal before, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Header image: A childhood photo of me and my sister taken by our mami, the original dreamer, on our first Christmas in the United States.

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Read more about Barbara

Join the Conversation