Columns

Booker: Deporting DREAMers Would be ‘Assaulting Very Idea of the American Dream’

Julia Paley of Arlington, Va., with the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, rallies in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) outside the White House on Sept. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J) urged Americans to join the fight to grant DREAMers a path to citizenship because subjecting them to deportation would mean “assaulting the very idea of the American dream.”

“Think about this. We are a nation that once denied full citizenship rights to women. We are a nation that has denied full citizenship rights to African-Americans and we have seen this tradition of struggle of every generation understanding that we’re all in this together,” Booker said in a video provided to the Center for American Progress Action Fund for its Beyond Sanctuary event late last month.

“We all have an indivisible, essential fight and cause to be a country of liberty and justice for all. Well, these citizenship fights took people from marches and protests to sit-ins where people were literally willing to put their lives on the line,” he added.

Booker compared the push for providing those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with a pathway citizenship to the civil rights movement, naming the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.

“We have to understand now in this conversation about DREAMers and the fight for them to have citizenship rights to be granted in paper what they have already manifested in their spirit, what they have already manifested through their actions. We now have to continue this fight and understand that we are all in this together – because the question is, who is a patriot?” Booker said.

“When Americans went off and fought overseas in battles and wars, fighting fascism, defending our country, and came home and found they didn’t have the right to vote or the right to access, we as a nation responded and corrected that ill,” he added. “Well, now we have DREAMers in our country who have been standing up and defending out nation, serving our nation, defining what patriotism is, which is not a sword to be wielded by one politician against another – who is patriotic and who is not.”

Booker said DACA recipients have demonstrated patriotism during the recent hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida but they are being “denied full citizenship rights.”

“If they come for the DREAMers and try to break up families, throw people out who are contributing billions of dollars to our economy, if they come for the DREAMers and try to remove people who have suffered and struggled for this country, please remember the words of James Baldwin when they came for Angela Davis. He simply wrote, ‘if they come in the morning for you, they will come in the evening for me.’ We are all in this together,” he said.

“This is the cause of our country. This is a matter of justice. This is about American patriotism and protecting and preserving patriots who know no other country but this nation here, who have served it nobly, who have contributed to our economy, who are growing jobs, who are standing up for our fellow Americans. This is about the DREAM Act,” he added.

Booker called for “American patriots” to “stand up” and fight for the DREAMers.

“If they take the DREAMers from this country, they are assaulting the very idea of the American dream. This is an affront to our common sense of patriotism. Let us protect our values. Let us protect our brothers and sisters. Let us stand with those people who have stood with us,” he said.

To support his position on citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Booker quoted the Langston Hughes poem Dream of Freedom.

“This dream today embattled with its back against the wall. To save the dream for one, it must be saved for all,” the poem reads.