Metics and Dreamers
On October 3, 2019, Tim Cooke, the CEO of Apple, and the company itself publicly voiced its support for DACA and Dreamers in a “friend of the court” filing. The DACA legislation has been the center of controversy within immigration politics in recent years, specifically after President Donald Trump has assumed office. Those in support of the act argue that the immigrants brought to America as children illegally by their parents should be allowed to stay because they have made significant contributions to society and have not knowingly done anything wrong, such as breaking immigration laws. Those against Dreamers and DACA, see them as leeches on society who broke the law and are a burden on society that threaten the standing of “true” Americans.
The two arguments sound very similar to the ones that were made in Ancient Athens after the Peloponnesian War. When rebuilding their government after the Thirty Tyrants, one of the debates in the Assembly was whether or not to allow metics to vote or participate in the Athenian government. The Democrats fought vehemently for the metics and slaves to get citizenship if they contributed service to the state. In both Ancient Athens and modern day United States, the issue of citizenship for immigrants was a hot-button topic, and the main arguments focused on whether or not the immigrants or metics were making contributions to the government or society.
In the court filing released yesterday Apple underlined how Dreamers have directly improved their company. The statement explained why the company had hired Dreamers saying, “We did not hire them out of kindness or charity, we did it because Dreamers embody Apple’s innovation strategy. They come from diverse backgrounds and display a wide range of skills and experiences that equip them to tackle problems from different perspectives.” (Cooke) Apple directly correlated its successes to having Dreamers with unique backgrounds and skills as employees. It also attributed the positive correlation to certain characteristics of the Dreamers such as their hard work ethic, determination, perseverance, and resolve.
In Plato’s Protagoras¸ he tells a story of how all people were given the skill of possessing the “art of governance.” This story is able to support the Democrats’ position during the debate on the electorate. Plato explains to Socrates, “When [Athenians and mankind in general] meet to deliberate about political virtue, which proceeds only by way of justice and wisdom, they are patient enough of any man who speaks of them, as is also natural, because they think that every man ought to share in this sort of virtue, and that states could not exist if this were otherwise.” (Plato) According to Plato, the god Zeus gave everyone the ability to participate in government, so he would have supported allowing metics and slaves to have the opportunity to become citizens and participate in the electorate.
The debate that our class had during Reacting To The Past on the electorate did not completely change my mind or stance on DACA, but it did make me consider some of the intricacies with determining a person’s status as a citizen of value. One of the issues my classmates brought up was, how does one determine if someone has contributed positively and substantially enough to Athenian society to be considered for citizenship? I thought that this question would also apply to the DACA argument for both those in support and those against. It is an incredibly subjective thing to determine, and there would be issues with who would set the standard and how the standard would be enforced measurably.
- Quin Ramos
Word Count: 593
Protagoras by Plato