We Cannot Choose Where to Be Born

We Cannot Choose Where to Be Born


Both sides of my family came over on the Mayflower. I am a direct descendent of Ethan Allen, a Revolutionary War hero, and I am the sixth generation of my family born in San Francisco. We have been in the United States, and in California, for basically as long as any other white people. 

That shouldn’t matter.

I take a lot of pride in being from such a long line of San Franciscans, because I love the Bay Area. I love the United States, too. Although it has a deeply troubled history, there is a lot to be proud of. But I did nothing to determine my lineage. I had no control over where I was born. 

There are currently hundreds of thousands of young adults in the United States right now whose lives have been disrupted in an extremely cruel way because they too, had no control over where they were born. 

Being born in another country does not make that someone’s home. I have taught kids who were born all over the world, and came to the United States at such a young age that they do not remember anything about their countries of birth. America is their home. Many of them do not speak the language of their countries of birth and have never been back. They have no support system there, and no way to know how to navigate those countries or find jobs.

Here, on the other hand, DACA recipients should be sought-after. They must be high school graduates or the equivalent. They cannot be criminals. They are the very definition of productive members of society and people living the true American dream. In short, they are exactly the types of Americans we should want in our country.

Instead, we are deporting these young adults to countries they don’t remember. We are breaking up families. We are creating job shortages in certain skilled fields, including medicine and education. We are not doing what Americans should do. 

I know that I will get angry responses to this writing. If that is your response, I would ask you: have you ever seen a family torn apart? I have. Do you really want to be someone who blames children who had no choice in the matter? I don’t. And I want us to remember that all of us white people were immigrants too, and many of us had no choice in the matter.

DACA repeal — or even delay — hurts not only the Dreamers, but all of us. It is destroying our nation’s soul. As a proud Californian and American I refuse to accept that repeal is what America has decided is right.


Bronwyn Harris lives in Alameda.