The Instability of the “Dreamers'” Future Hurts All Children

Last updated on May 27th, 2018 at 09:09 pm

If you follow the news at all, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. To summarize it, it is a program that has kept around 690,000 young, illegal immigrants from being deported. It was put into place by the Obama administration in 2012 after numerous attempts by Congress to come up with a permanent solution for “Dreamers” failed. The DACA provides children who were brought into the United States illegally, as minors, the ability to work and go to school without fear of deportation.

Many of these children grow up without having any idea of what their legal status is or what being illegal means. Now, they are facing a very uncertain future, especially those who plan to go to college. However, what I really want to address here is why the debate over what to do with Dreamers matters to us as guardians of young people.

When we choose to take responsibility for a child or teenager, even to the smallest degree, we are choosing to also have a direct impact on the future of our society. Culture affects young people differently than it does adults. As adults, we have, in many cases, been given the resources and experiences to learn which aspects of our culture we agree with and which we do not. We then build up a worldview that we protect and that protects our sense of self.

Children do not have this yet. They are still sorting through their understanding of the world and learning their emotions. It is up to us to guide them along that path. This brings me back to the debate over the DACA. Social environments have distinct impacts on child and adolescent development. Children must be able to have faith in the structures of authority that surround them. These structures are supposed to provide them with the safe space they need to develop as human beings. When these structures show themselves as unstable it has far reaching psychological effects not just for the children directly involved, but also for the rest of the population.

Uncertainty and fear can cripple the human mind, especially the tender developing mind of a child or teenager that is particularly vulnerable to stress. Many of these children who are now facing an uncertain future want to pursue higher education. Putting their futures in jeopardy hurts them as individuals and through their struggles their friends and their friends friends will lose faith in a system that is already on shaky ground. The ripple effect of this kind of uncertainty is sure to have lasting repercussions past what we can see.

As these uncertainties become more apparent, it falls on us as caretakers, to work even harder than we do already to provide a stable and healthy environment for our children and the children around us to grow in. We must listen to their needs and support them, as individuals, and as a whole as we strive towards a better future for all.

Children Learn What They Live

by Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,

They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,

They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,

They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,

They learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement,

They learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance,

They learn to be patient.

If children live with praise,

They learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance,

They learn to love.

If children live with approval,

They learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty,

They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,

They learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness,

They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

(Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte)

About the Author

Clara is a lifelong writer who recently became stepmom to an energetic seven-year-old boy. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Alabama and has written on a variety of subjects including social issues, politics, and music. A yoga practitioner and foodie with a deep passion for health and wellness, she seeks to use her education and experience to help individuals create better lives for themselves and their children. Clara is currently living in Atlanta with her husband and her 80lb ridgeback mix. Clara is a member of the PedSafe Team

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