Phone calls: September 4, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

Here’s what I’m saying to my friends today:

Yesterday, at a children’s museum, a friend and I were discussing the empathy we feel for other parents when we see them in difficult situations. If you’re a parent, you get it. When you see another mom or dad with a screaming kid in their Target cart, there’s a good chance you give them a nod and a smile, the parenting code for “I get it. I’ve been there. You’re doing the best you can. Live long and prosper.”

This isn’t to say people without kids can’t feel this sort of empathy. It is to say that I think it’s easier, when you have your own child or children, to put yourself in the shoes of those other parents.

It could be in Target. It could be elsewhere. I often feel this empathy when I’m working with parents during their child’s college admissions process. Almost without fail, the parents want what’s best for their child. They are worried about sending their baby off somewhere else. Sometimes, when they get caught up in this, the anxiety produced causes them to take out their feelings on the nearest target that isn’t their child — that’s me. I’ve been yelled at, spoken down to, and questioned incessantly to be sure I know what I’m talking about. While I don’t excuse the behavior, now that I’m a parent I can empathize. This other parent is feeling a rush of conflicting emotions: fear, pride, excitement, worry. I can feel all of these things with them, as I’ve been there.

We also put our children in the shoes of these other children. How many of us read stories about children in precarious positions and immediately picture our own child in that same situation? How many of us avoid stories about child abuse for just this reason? Because when you read about what happened, you can’t help but see your own kid’s face.

Again, this isn’t to say people who aren’t parents can’t feel this, or all people with kids do. But once you know what it’s like to have your heart walking around outside your body in the form of a three-foot tall person, I think you have some special insight.

So if you are a parent, and you know exactly what I’m talking about — that gut wrench you feel when your child is in trouble, or when you place them in another child’s situation and feel that same wrench — hold onto it for the next few paragraphs.

Donald Trump is expected to announce tomorrow that he’s going to end DACA, probably with a six-month delay. Pundits say he’s giving Congress time to act. This gives us a chance to enshrine the DACA program as law, but it’s going to take sustained effort from constituents to do so.

DACA recipients were brought here before age 16. Either they came with their parents or were sent by parents. Crossing a border illegally is not something people choose to do lightly. People die in the process. Many families put their lives at risk because they believed the United States would provide better opportunity for their children. As a parent, can you understand this? Have you ever gone out of your way to do something because it would give the best opportunity to your child?

DACA recipients are also not criminals — they cannot have been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor, or more than three less serious misdemeanors. 95% of them are currently working or in school. DACA removed some (but not all!) roadblocks on the way to jobs that pay living wages and on the path to college attendance.

These are young people who are trying to make their way in an unwelcoming place, a place they were brought before they had a say. Without DACA, they face job loss, an inability to attend college, no way to support themselves, and the potential of deportation to a country they may hardly know.

What if these were your kids? Think about your own child in this situation. You, their parent, made a decision for your child when they were younger, because you believed it would improve their quality of life. You put yourself at risk in this process also, but it was because you wanted what’s best for your child, like we all do. Now, your child is being directly threatened with economic and personal devastation. Wouldn’t you fight tooth and nail to keep this from happening?

If the answer is yes, then you also need to fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening to 800,000 other young people in this country. If you don’t need any more convincing, skip to the end and find some information on what you can do.

If you’re not swayed by empathy, but you like economics, try this. Even opposing sides of the aisle are arguing that Trump shouldn’t end DACA. Progressive group Center for American Progress (funded by Mark Zuckerberg) recently released a study on a DACA repeal, summed up by Fortune Magazine here: “An average of 30,000 workers could lose their jobs every month if DACA were repealed or permit renewals were held up, the report found. It also estimated that the loss of those workers could cost the country $460.3 billion in economic output over the next decade, with Medicare and Social Security contributions dropping by $24.6 billion.”

“Ending DACA would place severe economic strain on businesses around the country, putting them into the impossible and extremely costly position of having to fire productive employees for no other reason than an arbitrary change in federal policy, potentially resulting in backlash from other employees, or their broader community,” the report reads.” (http://fortune.com/20…/…/31/daca-dreamers-jobs-donald-trump/)

On the other side, there’s the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank: “Using the most conservative estimates, ending DACA would impose massive costs on employers — nearly $2 billion over two years,” said David Bier, a policy analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute who was also on the call with reporters….In January, the Cato Institute…estimated that terminating DACA and immediately deporting those enrolled in the program would cost the federal government $60 billion, and would reduce economic growth by $280 billion in the next 10 years.” (http://money.cnn.com/…/eco…/daca-job-losses-study/index.html)

Leading businesspeople also agree, ending DACA is bad for the economy: https://www.cbsnews.com/…/tech-ceos-call-on-trump-congress…/

Finally, even Paul Ryan (EVEN PAUL RYAN) has said “I actually don’t think he should do that…” in reference to Trump’s threats to sunset DACA.

Paul Ryan thinks we need a legislative solution, and if Trump forces the issue by ending DACA, it’s up to us to pressure our elected officials to legislate protection for DACA recipients. Here’s a good guide to calling Congress, with tools to help you find your Congresspeople and an idea of what to expect when you call: http://www.refinery29.com/2017/01/138465/how-to-call-senator

And here’s more information so you can think about what to say. Here’s the call to action: ask your senator to co-sponsor the Durbin-Graham DREAM Act. Ask your rep to co-sponsor Rep. Gutierrez’s American Hope Act (H.R. 3591).

Think about it: what if these were your kids? If your gut just wrenched, then pick up your damn phone.

So prepare for some calls.

D

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