Certainly one of the most polarizing issues in today’s legislature is the amount of rights to afford illegal immigrants and their children. Debates have raged fiercely across the aisle and it seems that the rhetoric has never been more inflammatory, from both sides. What should be done specifically concerning children brought here illegally by their parents, when most of said children have been key contributors in their communities? Perhaps this problem is not so unique to today. History repeats itself over time and many similarities can be drawn from our current situation and that of the Metics in Ancient Athens.
Signed in 2012 by President Obama, DACA-The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy gives many rights to children of illegal immigrants that they did not previously have. Though their parents may have committed a crime by coming here illegally, these children had no say in the decision and often have been influential contributors to society during their lives. In fact, studies have shown that two thirds of “Dreamers” are ages 25 and under(Lopez). These young people have grown up in America and will continue to support their communities and homes as they age. Similarly to these children, Metics were absolutely crucial to the running of Athenian society. They ran businesses, payed taxes, and often fought in wars. Specifically during the reign of the Thirty Tyrants, Metics were instrumental in the ousting the usurpers and eventual rebuilding of Athens. Perhaps it was said best in the Constitution of the Athenians when is stated “The city needs metics in view of the many different trades and the fleet(Pseudo).” The key fact is how both the “Dreamers” and the Metics were core contributors to society. It is quite surprising to see that for years “Dreamers” were not afforded the same rights as others. In effect they were punished for the actions of their parents. Likewise, Metics were punished simply for being born into a certain family and were banned from voting or even having a say in the Athenian Assemblies.
Holding the mock Athenian Assebmly in class certainly made me think differently about “Dreamers.” Honestly, I was not very educated on the topic, but after reading and doing research I certainly feel for their plight as I did with the Metics in class. How frustrating and humiliating it must be to not even be able to have rights in a society in which you have contributed so much. The Athenians failed to make the right decision and give Metics rights for years. I hope that America will be forward thinking on this issue and cease punishing children for the illegal actions of their parents.
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López, Gustavo, and Jens Manuel Krogstad. “Key Facts about ‘Dreamers’ Enrolled in DACA.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 25 Sept. 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/25/key-facts-about-unauthorized-immigrants-enrolled-in-daca/.
“Pseudo-Xenophon (Old Oligarch), Constitution of the Athenians E. C. Marchant, Ed.” Pseudo-Xenophon (Old Oligarch), Constitution of the Athenians, Chapter 1, www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0158.