So, President Trump has decided to rescind the executive order that President Obama used to establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. In other words, he has started the machinery that in six months (barring action by our dysfunctional Congress) will leave 800,000 foreign-born young people vulnerable to deportation.
Trump has done a lot of dumb things in his brief tenure in office, but it's hard to think of any single thing he's done that is potentially more damaging to the country he purports to want to make great again.
I say this because of what I learned in a second career (2006-2011) teaching at Central High School in Prince George's County, MD. I taught a lot of immigrant kids. I never knew their legal immigration status; I never asked. Some of them might have been DACA-eligible. Others weren't.
But I do know that they were, in the great majority, admirable students and admirable people. They were excited to have the opportunity to get an education in an American public school of the sort that is too often disparaged by people who haven't been in one and would never send their kids to one. Things that American kids take for granted, like air-conditioning and computers, struck them as infinitely superior to the schools in the lands they left behind.
These kids did not expect anything to be given to them. To the contrary, they expected to have to work their butts off. Many of them started in American schools speaking little or no English. That was okay with them. They worked hard and caught up. They didn't complain about the essay assignments and grammar lessons I gave them. They asked only for extra help mastering things that didn't come quickly to them.
I am not the first to observe that attitude makes a tremendous difference in what people can accomplish. These kids had great attitudes.
As the years have passed, I've kept up with many of my old students, thanks in part to social media. I have seen them continue to struggle, to strive, and to achieve. They've gone to and graduated from college, often with honors. A lot of them worked their way through, in menial jobs like taking care of the elderly in nursing homes. Some of them have started families and careers. Some have managed to make it into graduate school, where they're working toward medical degrees and MBAs. I've gone back into my archives and found pictures of some of them, which I am posting here. I won't identify them, though, because I don't want to embarrass them, and I want them to represent not just themselves, but all the kids like them whose futures are at risk.
What Trump and his know-nothing supporters don't seem to get is that America needs these kids. It needs their energy, their talent, and their ambition. It needs that attitude they bring to their lives. In their collectivity, they are not going to take jobs from native-born Americans. They are going to create them.
If we throw them out, some other country will benefit. And Joe Trumpist from West Virginia will still not get his old job in the coal mine back. It's a lose-lose proposition.