Dreamers: Delaware State University is their school, the U.S. is their home

On Labor Day afternoon, I found myself seated at the local Starbucks in Dover next to one of the Dreamers — undocumented children of immigrants — who I found out was in her sophomore year enrolled as a political science major at Delaware State University.

As we individually worked on our separate laptops on different projects, it was clear that my writing a movie review for an online publication paled considerably to the academic studies in which she was immersed. Because of my admiration and affection for the DSU Dreamers, I attempted some small talk a few times, to which she politely responded. However, I eventually realized that she really preferred to be left alone with her coursework and thoughts, causing me to limit my interruptions to a minimum.

There was nothing unusual about her engagement in focused study just before the second week of the semester had begun. She was like many of our outstanding students who are seizing the studious moment early in the semester rather than procrastinate. Moreover, she appeared to be as earnest and tenacious as other members of DSU’s first class of 34 Dreamers who ended their first year at DSU with a highly remarkable 3.7 grade-point average (which included 26 students with 4.0 GPAs throughout their freshman year).

Carlos Holmes by .

Carlos Holmes

In addition to the obvious academic excellence motivations, it also became clear to me that focusing on her work was no doubt the best way at the time to keep her mind off the then-pending announcement about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) by President Donald Trump.

Although the Sept. 5 news was consistent with the president’s previous threats contained in his diatribes on the immigration issue and therefore not surprising, the DSU community was nonetheless deeply disappointed by the executive order. However, instead of sinking into frustrated dismay, the DSU leadership is choosing to invest its hopes in the belief that the Tuesday announcement will not be the last word on what awaits our Delaware State students who just happen to be Dreamers.

Delaware’s senior U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Don Graham – the founder of TheDream.US that provides Opportunity Scholarships to these undocumented students — DSU President Harry L. Williams, and DSU Provost Tony Allen met with a representative group of the Dreamers. It so happened that this scheduled meeting fell on the very day Trump announced that he is phasing out DACA.

Sen. Carper expressed his commitment to work on the Dreamers’ behalf in Congress, while Mr. Graham expressed profound admiration for the life obstacles they have overcome. Dr. Williams and Dr. Allen reassured the students that they are a part of the DSU family and that the institution would continue to support them as such.

The most poignant expressions during that meeting, however, came from the Dreamers themselves, who while expressing concerns over the uncertain resolution of their situation and worry whether they will be able to complete their academic journeys, they made it clear who they believed they are – Americans.

This is the grave injustice of what the Dreamers have to go through presently. Most came to the U.S. when they were very young, and many of them were merely infants when their parents crossed the border. They may have been born in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil or some other country, but the United States is the only country these college students know. While virtually all grew up learning to speak both English and Spanish, many of them are more articulate in the U.S. native language than that of their family roots.

There is no doubt that the White House is playing a political game at the emotional expense of these innocent college students and all other Dreamers and their families across the country. But while the morning’s news gave them a troubling pause, by the afternoon, the Dreamers at Delaware State University had gathered themselves and organized a march on campus in which they repeatedly and loudly proclaimed “We won’t give up!!!” and “This is our home!!!” Just as beautiful as their resilience and stubborn refusal to harbor dismay and pessimism in their hearts and souls was the sight of other non-Dreamer DSU students who also showed their diverse solidarity by marching with them.

Thus is the position of DSU in this matter: These Dreamers are DSU students and the DelState community stands solidly with them.

And, I add, Divine Providence will work it out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Carlos Holmes is the Director of News Services at Delaware State University where he has labored on behalf of the students and the institution for more than 16 years. He was also a writer/editor for the Delaware State News in the 1990s.

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