Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 7, 2017

The Dreamers and the Pictures: Rising Above

New York City Immigration activists protesting the Trump administration’s decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are arrested by New York City Police (NYPD) officers after they sat in the street and blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For those of us who know Dreamers, who live with or near them, who work with them, who love them, it’s puzzling that their value to this country is being so casually discarded. The Dreamers I know have the drive of pioneers. Their determination is born out of urgency. They can’t…take for granted their right to be here. They earn it every day.

–Edwidge Danticat. Dreams Deferred for Young Americans (New Yorker)

Trump and Sessions made a big mistake. You can’t ostracize a group or  cast it as “other” if that group is too familiar. If it is too well thought of. If it is the embodiment of what we stand for.

The Dreamers’ legitimacy was instantly evident in the widespread, bipartisan disdain for Trump’s cynical action to initiate their deportation. It has also been inherent in the news photography. Take the face of the cop above in this photo by Getty’s Drew Angerer. Whatever motivated this face, as a political telegraph, it says: “Seriously, are we really doing this?”

Demonstrators in cities across the U.S. protested yesterday after President Trump moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or #DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed days of speculation that the #Trump administration would end DACA in 6 months, leaving Congress to come up with a legislative solution to replace it. The announcement, fulfilling a campaign pledge of President @realdonaldtrump, immediately threw into question the future of everyone who signed up under the program. Some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children who qualify for DACA will become eligible for deportation. “Am I supposed to plan to reset my life in 6 months?” one graduate student and so-called Dreamer asked. “This isn’t over, and we’re not going to be pushed out of our country.” @heislerphoto photographed a demonstration outside of Trump Tower in New York

Beyond their legal claim, the Dreamers are also an inspiration. Far from an abstraction, their cause verges on the poetic. Their name is who they are, what they do, and what so many are making come true. All that is contained in this NY Times photo by Todd Heisler taken outside Trump Tower in New York.

The closed eyes bring in all together. She’s fighting. She’s dreaming. She’s the incarnation of King’s famous dream speech. She’s the embodiment of the ideal.

Reposting @jtaggfoto: If they deport all of us, who will rebuild?" says Enríquez, 36, waiting along with about two dozen other laborers seeking work. "We do more for less." photographed for @washingtonpost @washpostphoto #hurricaneharvey2017

Shooting for the Washington Post, the text accompanying John Taggart’s Instagram says it all:

Reposting @jtaggfoto: If they deport all of us, who will rebuild?” says Enríquez, 36, waiting along with about two dozen other laborers seeking work. “We do more for less.” 

As if the photo needed any more moral backing, it was taken in the Houston area in the wake of Harvey.

DACA recipient listen to Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to end the nation's DACA program that gives work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Photo: Nick Oza

Nick Oza has been following the immigration story with deep passion and a powerful eye for a long time. Here, he renders the government’s DACA decision as a flesh-and-blood versus virtual “face off.” (The fuzziness of the Attorney General also speaks to the way Trump and the administration dumped ultimate responsibility for the dictate onto Congress.) It’s a portrait of sickly power–the yellowish, Wizard of Oz-like (and also Trump-like) head challenging the moral strength, the bonds and the faith (red bracelet) of the Dreamers. I was also interested in the tattoo. It reads:

Much of life is like a bumblebee flying. No one really knows how it works, but it does.

The bumblebee is a curious choice. Perhaps there is some understanding that what bears honey can also sting you. In any case, the joined arms and the defiance seem to illustrate what happens when the trust and the faith run out.

#Dreamers #Congress 📷@aaronpbernstein @gettyimages

Finally, it’s not unusual to see protesters holding photos aloft, as in this shot by Aaron Bernstein inside the halls of Congress. Typically though, they are pictures of loved ones or unfamiliar victims. In still another expression of poignancy, this has a different twist. Defined by their arrival to America as children, it appears that the potential victim in the photo is that Dreamer.

— Michael Shaw

(Photo 1: Drew Angerer/Getty Images via Instagram. Caption: Immigration activists protesting the Trump administration’s decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are arrested by New York City Police (NYPD) officers after they sat in the street and blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images). Photo 2: Todd Heisler/New York Times via Instagram. CaptionDemonstrators in cities across the U.S. protested yesterday after President Trump moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or #DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed days of speculation that the #Trump administration would end DACA in 6 months, leaving Congress to come up with a legislative solution to replace it. The announcement, fulfilling a campaign pledge of President @realdonaldtrump, immediately threw into question the future of everyone who signed up under the program. Some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children who qualify for DACA will become eligible for deportation. “Am I supposed to plan to reset my life in 6 months?” one graduate student and so-called Dreamer asked. “This isn’t over, and we’re not going to be pushed out of our country.” @heislerphoto photographed a demonstration outside of Trump Tower in New York yesterday. Photo 3: John Taggart/Washington Post via Instagram. Photo 4: Nick Oza via Instagram. Caption: DACA recipient listens to Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to end the nation’s DACA program that gives work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Photo 5: Aaron Bernstein/Getty Images via Instagram.)

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