This piece responds to an op-ed published in the Columbia Daily Spectator.
There remain numerous important questions with regards to DACA and immigration more generally. These include, for example: what constitutes prosecutorial discretion, the stated legal basis for President Obama’s DACA order? Can the executive branch award positive legal rights to a particular class of people, or does the American constitutional order reserve that power for the legislative branch? How might amnesty programs destabilize the Rule of Law, the predictability on which the legitimacy of our government lies?
The list could quite easily continue down the whole page. These are nuanced questions, and we must try and answer them if we are to find order and peace in an unbelievably complex and dynamic world. And on these issues, reasonable people can disagree.
Unfortunately, UndoCU refuses to have any of it.
What absurd claims the group does make go unsubstantiated: that illegal immigrants’ “humanity [has been] discarded in the name of profit,” that “an absolutist understanding of freedom of speech…has caused the deaths of countless bodies of color,” and that “European colonization never ended; anti-blackness was and still is a vital part of many countries’ economies.” Readers will find precisely zero evidence offered for these extreme statements.
In fact, dissatisfied with merely abstaining from any intellectual discourse, UndoCU commits irrevocable harm to it in their op-ed, declaring, “There are two simple sides to the immigration debate: us, undocumented communities and immigrants of all types and those who stand with us, and white supremacists holding tiki torches.” In other words: ‘if you don’t agree with us, you are a literal Nazi.’
This is the stuff of satire, except that this time it isn’t funny—it’s dangerous.
This type of divisive and reductionist rhetoric is no better than that of their ostensible foe, President Trump. Indeed, UndoCU’s rhetoric might even be worse—Trump at least refrained from insisting that every single Mexican immigrant is a rapist. (Of course, in holding our nation’s highest office, Trump should be held to a higher standard of decorum.) Nevertheless, if you are looking to smother the productive debate necessary to solve the many problems we face today, look no further than UndoCU.
I would be more than willing to outline a defense of Trump’s decision to end DACA and rebut UndoCU’s outlandish claims. But for that we would actually need a debate. UndoCU claims that “our understanding of the immigration debate must be reconstructed.” But it would seem that what UndoCU really demands for the immigration debate is not a reconstruction, but total destruction.
Joseph Siegel is a sophomore studying philosophy and economics in Columbia College. In addition to serving on the boards of Columbia University College Republicans and Columbia Political Union, he performs jazz guitar with the Music Performance Program and with the Columbia Jazz House, where he resides.