Anne Frank and the Dreamers


Anne Frank was a Dreamer. Maybe the first one.

She wrote the highly regarded book, The Diary of Anne Frank, to feel better about her life as a teenager while hiding from the Nazis from 1942 to 1945.  At 14, she thought it would never be read by anyone. Her private world documented in the diary became ours to read, a few years after she died from typhus disease at a German concentration camp at the end of World War II.

Re-reading the diary I found Frank’s clever and insightful writing just as painful today as when I first read it decades ago at 16.

It’s a book that all our Dreamers here in the United States should read. Dreamers, many of whom are Latino immigrants, came to the United States with their immigrant parents when they were young. Despite Donald Trump’s plan to kick them out of the country, they want to stay – just like Frank wanted to stay in Holland where she hid from the Nazis who wanted to throw Jews into concentration camps and gas chambers to die.

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Trump doesn’t have a camp or a chamber for American Dreamers; however, they will be kicked out of the country to places they don’t know much about or want to live. Some of them are starting to hide from Trump here. Others are protesting loudly, in opposition to his latest propaganda that lies about Dreamers taking jobs away from Trump’s base supporters.

After the protests, Trump started doing what he always does – play a political game by negotiating with Democrats and Republicans to blame Congress or somebody for the Dreamers’ nightmares. Maybe, though, he will change his mind and go back to his original thinking. His presidential behavior is closer to Hitler’s than either of the former Republican presidents, the George Bushes.

Our president is returning us to a sick and violent attack against people who are not white or not Christian or just don’t agree with him. He is entrapping some of our country’s smartest Americans. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to end DACA provides us with reasons why we must remove him from office, relieving the country of his bipolar approach to governing.

One day he opposes DACA. A few days later, he promises to work with Democrats to fix DACA and save Latinos. Meanwhile, Dreamers remain in the shadows as pawns in a game designed to deflect blame away from the White House.

Clearly Trump should be blamed, even though he tries occasionally to hide his racism and clean up his heinous deeds after some of his political assistants work to prevent him from being so honest and open about what he really believes. Some of them think Trump mimics some racist conservatives only because it makes his base happier, but I think that’s nonsense.

DACA demonstrates that Trump is mean, hateful and arrogant from the top of his nasty brain to his ugly toes. He is never going to change.

He is arguing that a 77 percent jump in unaccompanied children who traveled in 2014 from Central America to the U.S. border occurred because DACA essentially enabled them to work for the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha), a criminal gang that, despite Trump and Sessions’ false accusations, originated in the 1980s in Los Angeles, not Central America. In 2014, nearly 70,000 children were apprehended at the southern border. The Washington Post reported that most fled violence and abuse in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The Obama Administration found that the 77 percent jump had nothing to do with DACA.

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Trump is delivering his lies by duplicating some parts of history in his treatment of people of color. On October 9th 1942, Frank wrote to “Kitty”, the name she gave her diary:

“Dearest Kitty, Today I have nothing but dismal and depressing news to report. Our many Jewish friends…are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerport, the big camp in Drenthe to which they are sending all the Jews…The people get almost nothing to eat, much less to drink, as water is available only one hour a day, as there’s only one toilet and sink for several thousand people…If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed. Perhaps that’s the quickest way to die. I feel terrible.”

Many of us feel terrible today.

The United States is home for the Dreamers, just as Holland was for Frank. Most of the 50 states are where Dreamers grew up, matured, studied, had fun, fell in love.

What can we do to convince Congress to stop the president’s madness? We must not let Trump run this show. We should call Congress, lobby against him and threatened defeat in future elections. We must help Dreamers do the same and develop relationships with as many as we can where we live now and where we grew up.

We should keep Anne Frank in our memory by bringing Dreamers into our homes to support them. Find your Anne Frank diary. Read it again. The United States is not Europe in 1942, but the parallels are clear.

Karen Hinton is a communications consultant and the former press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio.