John Young: Trump’s ransom note: ‘Give me my wall or they get it’


In scary fiction from yesteryear, the Wicked Witch of the West held a young Kansas girl’s life in limbo behind castle walls because she wanted her magic shoes.

In scarier reality this year, the Wicked Tower-Dweller of the East holds the lives of 790,000 young Americans in limbo because he wants his wall.

Donald Trump admits it would be wrong to deport those protected from deportation under Barack Obama’s brave and compassionate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA.

But, sadly for them, they have brown skin, and this is something Obama did. And for Donald Trump, what’s “wrong” changes from day to day. Hence, the wicked Tower-Dweller cannot simply do the right thing. He has to pin a ransom to young people’s fates.

That first consideration, the color of their skin, is, of course, the main consideration of Trump’s racist base. We know already that if DACA pertained to youth from Norway, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Trump says a border wall will be the cost of freeing these young Americans — yes, as American as any of us. He also says that the cost of freeing them would include the deportation of their parents — contrary to a bipartisan Senate bill authored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would grant permanent status to DACA beneficiaries and allow their parents to stay on renewable permits.

What a deal. What a disgrace.

At this point I think of a young woman who shared her story with me about coming to America and how DACA factors into her life.

She’s not sure where she entered the country — somewhere along the Arizona border, maybe. It hardly matters.

She was pulled along in the heat, panting, her stubby legs trying to keep up, her heart telling her mind: Don’t let go.

She was 5.

She wrote about these things for me a few semesters ago in an essay for a college English class I teach.

I wonder where and what she is today. A college graduate, most likely. A working woman with children of her own.

One thing is certain: Today she is frantic. The place she’s known as home for all of her life is on the brink of sending her “back” — to a place she’s never known. To Trump supporters, she is a lawbreaker and does not belong here.

Trump tells us he knows the meaning of investments. Well, every one of the 790,000 of the people sheltered from deportation by DACA is exactly that: an investment.

Every one of them has been educated in our schools. Every one has been nurtured by our culture. Many have served in the military. Almost all are productive members of our workforce.

If we send them “back” to a place they’ve never known, aside from being shamefully mean, we deprive ourselves of the gifts they offer. As a society, we are poorer in massive multiples.

Actually, this has been quantified. The Center for American Progress this year estimated that the loss of all DACA workers would reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by $433 million over the next 10 years.

Shame on us, however, if all we do is masticate this matter down to a sack of coins.

For those who can’t stomach the notion of amnesty for these “illegals”: Remember that Ronald Reagan signed a measure granting amnesty for millions of people who had been in the country illegally for years.

It’s encouraging to see a bipartisan group call for an extension of DACA while supporting the DREAM Act, which provides a path to citizenship for people like the young lady I know who still feels the tug of the American Dream in her hand.

Trump says he cares about people like her. What a joke. What he cares about is his castle and a wicked wall.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: Austin sick leave policy another cleanup for Legislature
Commentary: Austin sick leave policy another cleanup for Legislature

Once again, the Austin City Council has decided to run the city’s private businesses instead of the city of Austin. If it isn’t careful, it’s going to run those private businesses right out of town, like it did to Uber. Thankfully, the Texas Legislature stepped in on the ride-hailing issue. And while mandatory paid sick leave for...
Herman: Progressing toward a better way of picking judges?
Herman: Progressing toward a better way of picking judges?

It’s good that the Texas Legislature created a new and needed state district court for civil matters here in Travis County. Now comes the hard part: We, the voters, must pick a judge for the court. Admit it. We’re not always really good at that. It’s not that we don’t want to do our civic duty and do our homework and pick a...
Facebook comments: Feb. 25, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Nancy Flores, retired Judge Bob Perkins and his nonprofit group, Justice for Menchaca, got a step closer to its goal of changing street signs on Manchaca Road. Perkins says Texas Revolutionary captain José Antonio Menchaca is the true namesake of the road, and recently Austin City Council Member...
Austin author offers tips on how you can be a better writer
Austin author offers tips on how you can be a better writer

This month’s Statesman Selects is a little different. Usually, we highlight a work of fiction or nonfiction — something with some sort of narrative. This month’s Selects is, well, a textbook. An incredibly cool textbook. In “The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction,” Austin author (and program director for...
Listen, America. Our children have something to say about guns
Listen, America. Our children have something to say about guns

The national gun debate has a new, youthful face. This time children are the grown-ups driving the discussion, and they have something to say. We should all listen. Even as they mourned the deaths of 17 of their schoolmates and faculty, the survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., channeled their...
More Stories