The Dreamer Divide: Aspiring for a More Inclusive Immigrants’ Rights Movement

Adrienne Pon
Date of Publication: 
May, 2018
Source Organization: 

Since 2017, the Trump administration has advanced a series of anti-immigrant initiatives such as rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which had suspended deportation for about 800,000 young undocumented “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrant youth brought to the United States as children. The Dreamer Divide: Aspiring for a More Inclusive Immigrants’ Rights Movement argues that countering anti-immigrant sentiment and policies requires “inclusive strategies that avoid advancing the interests of some immigrants at the expense of other immigrants.” It utilizes data from governmental, academic and news sources to show the importance of inclusive immigrant advocacy strategy in the context of the Dreamer debate. The essay reviews past and present social movement strategies aimed at promoting interests of some underprivileged groups at the expense of other similarly situated groups. For example, the majority of white women suffragists opposed the full inclusion of black women in their movement because they feared that resulting racial tensions would hinder the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. This example mirrors the current Dreamer debate, which involves a divide between high-achieving youth considered blameless for their undocumented status and older undocumented immigrants whose image pales by comparison; legislation designed to aid DACA recipients could also potentially harm other immigrants. To advance more inclusive immigrants’ rights strategies, the essay recommends that advocates scrutinize the impact of legislative efforts on all immigrants, stay attuned to the needs of their communities and collaborate with a variety of immigrant communities. This approach will “chip away at the systemic discrimination against immigrants in our society.” It might also be necessary, the author suggests, to drop the term “dreamer” altogether. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Pon, A. (2018). The Dreamer Divide: Aspiring for a More Inclusive Immigrants’ Rights Movement. Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, 14(SI33), 33-44. Retrieved from