Opinion » The Rant

A Dream in Limbo

Living in uncertainty is a way of life for far too many in America.

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Keeping Up with D. Trump is one of the most difficult reality TV shows to follow. It's probably the longest-running series I've ever watched (I tend to trust the binge-able shows on Netflix that offer some sort of consistency). But with Trump, it seems that we can never trust him to be consistent, or even comprehendible.

In the past week alone, Trump has gone from, "We want the wall. The wall is going to happen, or we're not going to have DACA" at a press conference at Camp David to saying on Tuesday that he'll "take the heat" for a sweeping immigration deal, which he referred to as a "bill of love," to protect over 700,000 young undocumented youth. He later backtracked and stated on Wednesday that any deal would have to include millions of dollars in investment towards the militarization of a border wall.

Imagine this recap preceded by your favorite voice-over of "Previously on ___" but instead of Lost, Ugly Betty, or The Walking Dead, it's Trump's White, Cishteropatriarchy America. Now you have an interesting comedy-drama and apocalyptic horror show that airs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether you want it to or not. Having watched almost a full year of this, er, production, I can't say that I've picked up on a consistent plot or theme. If anything, the stress of not knowing what will happen next is the only thing I can be sure of.

Previously on President Trump - JOSHUA ROBERTS | REUTERS
  • Joshua Roberts | reuters
  • Previously on President Trump

I say this jokingly because humor is one of my coping mechanisms; however, this is my reality and the reality for anyone in the U.S. (and the world) who is poor, brown, black, indigenous, undocumented — or "made undocumented," if we want to challenge the construction of borders and recognize the displacement of people who inhabited the land for hundreds of years before us. We have essentially been living in an apocalyptic episode that our friends and allies are only recently waking up to. We can't really hit pause or take a commercial break from the stress and anxiety when we're constantly having to defend our humanity. We can't all go running into country fields and roast marshmallows over a bonfire after a good ol' hike in the woods like Justin Timberlake.

For those of us who've been "resisting by just existing" our whole lives, the feeling of living during the Trump era is not unfamiliar. We remember the record number of deportations during the Obama administration and President Clinton's NAFTA, which basically destroyed Mexico's agriculture and economy, and Bush's "Special Registration" program that disproportionately targeted Arabs and Muslims.

While Trump may seem like a culture shock to the average, apolitical person, we've been living under high levels of uncertainty for quite a while, long before Number 45 came into office. White men, fueled by power, have disenfranchised our youth and workers, defunded our education and public transportation, created barriers against the development of our businesses and livable housing, and have separated our families. We've been made immobile physically and economically by policy for years. The difference is that in the past nearly 365 days, things have intensified and accelerated. And the squabbles in Congress and Trump's inconsistency don't ease our concerns.

Hundreds of thousands of DREAMers and undocumented folks are dealing with the rollercoaster of reactions to Trump's statements and tweets. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled to block the administration's plan to end the DACA program, arguing that no action can be taken while the program is being legally disputed. Bruna Bouhid of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the U.S., responded, "We can't keep relying on lawsuits and different presidents to come in and upend our lives. I don't want to go through this anymore. It's too hard. As a DACA recipient, it's too much back and forth. You don't know what your future looks like."

On the one hand, the ruling gives a glimmer of hope, but undocumented people know the game and know to wait. Time reveals the truth in politicians facing reelection in 2018, and Trump's cryptic stance(s) this week offer further evidence of how undocumented people's lives are repeatedly used as bargaining chips.

Back in December, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was criticized for using DREAMers for photo-ops and pandering to the Latinx voter, leaving them with empty promises of work dedicated toward an immigration reform. At the end of 2017, Democrats were not willing to push further the inclusion of a clean DREAM Act in the spending deal. This past week has also seen the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 200,000 Salvadorans, many of whom have been living and working in the states for at least 20 years.

So what do you do when your life is just part of someone's political agenda? For some, the answer is to take action (I highly recommend this to allies who have certain securities and privileges that undocumented folks and people who are targeted for their race, ethnicity, sexuality, faith, and nationality do not). To those who, like Bouhid, are tired of their existence being left on a cliffhanger with each episode of Keeping Up With D. Trump, please take a rest. In order to keep you and your love alive, we need you to check in with yourself, find your people for support, and do what you think is best for your body and mind.

Aylen Mercado is a brown, queer, Latinx chingona and Memphian pursuing an Urban Studies and Latin American and Latinx Studies degree at Rhodes College. A native of Argentina, she is researching Latinx identity in the South.

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