President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign store has added a new product to its line of red, white, and camouflage “Make America Great Again” hats. Trump supporters are now able to purchase $50 navy hats with the words “American Dreamer” embroidered in large, white letters.
On the surface, the product seems perfectly innocuous. “American Dreamer,” after all, is a reference to one of Trump’s most popular lines from his first State of the Union address.
“My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream,” said Trump, speaking about his administration’s various crackdowns on immigration. Referencing the millions of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as “Dreamers,” he insisted, “Americans are dreamers too.”
The phrase was seen as intentionally divisive and mirrored Trump’s language last September when he announced he would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provided legal protections for hundreds of thousands of those Dreamers. “[Y]oung Americans have dreams too,” Trump stated at the time.
The phrase “Americans are dreamers too” was quickly embraced by white nationalists following Trump’s State of the Union speech. Many of them made memes of the phrase, pairing Trump’s words with stock images of white people.
Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, for instance, posted this image on Twitter during Trump’s speech:
“Americans are dreamers, too.”
~Donald Trump pic.twitter.com/nZmUFBWMCE
— Richard 🐉 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) January 31, 2018
Former KKK grand wizard David Duke also thanked Trump for including the line in his speech. “Thank you President Trump,” he wrote. “Americans are ‘Dreamers’ too.”
Thank you President Trump. Americans are "Dreamers" too.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) January 31, 2018
The argument for the Dream Act — which would have provided young, undocumented immigrants with the ability to become permanent residents if it had passed, and from which the term “Dreamers” was derived — is that Dreamers are Americans. They had no choice in the decision to come to the United States, they grew up here and, in many cases, have no connection to any other country. Trump’s turn of phrase, by contrast, pits “Americans” and “Dreamers” against one another.
The timing of the “American Dreamer” hats sale is curious, considering the deadline Trump set for Congress to come up with a permanent DACA fix, March 5, is just around the corner.
So far, Congress hasn’t been able to come up with a legislative solution that the president finds acceptable, leaving Dreamers in limbo. Earlier in January, a court ruling allowed the DACA renewal process to continue past March 5, and on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear any arguments in the case, upholding the lower court ruling for the time being, or until it decides to take up the case. In the meantime, however, no new DACA applications will be accepted.