No Cartoon Joke: Dreamers Are Just Like Us – Except They Commit Fewer Crimes

Dreamers like these protesters outside Senator Jeff Flake's office last week are statistically less likely to commit crimes that native-born citizens.
Dreamers like these protesters outside Senator Jeff Flake's office last week are statistically less likely to commit crimes that native-born citizens. Joseph Flaherty
A white man and woman dressed in evening wear inexplicably are walking alone at night through a dark alley, a trash can overturned behind them, stray cats running amok, gang graffiti scrawled along the wall.

Three young men – two carrying pistols, a third wielding a bloodstained knife – confront the couple. The assailants’ pants are sagging below their behinds. One is wearing a jacket adorned with a skull and the inscription MS-13, a notorious Hispanic gang.

Yes, this is the nightmare of Trump’s America.

As the woman hands over her red purse at gunpoint, her sniveling husband tries to appease these thugs.

“Now, honey,” he says, “I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ ... or future Democrats.”

Frightened? Don’t be. It’s only a cartoon, drawn by Sean Delonas for the Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal.

Screenshot @seandelonas

In fact, at first, I laughed. This is so egregious it must be satire. The Journal’s editor, Karen Moses, tried to pass it off as that, too, in an apology she wrote to readers after receiving hundreds of  complaints: “On one level it appeared to us to be poking at President Trump's rhetoric by portraying a quaking Republican couple who were painting Dreamers with a broad, totally false, brush."

But then Delonas opened his mouth. We should be afraid, very afraid, of loathsome Latinos, he said. This investigative cartoonist has “learned” that gangs are “purposely sending minors over here to commit crimes.”

Like voting illegally for Hillary, I suppose.

Delonas admitted he was proud of the ruckus he had inspired. "Today, U.S. Senators and state lawmakers (all Democrats) from New Mexico took time out of their busy pay-to-play schedules to condemn me,” he said, according to NPR.

Well, we at Phoenix New Times like to annoy politicians, too. So I won’t criticize Mr. Delonas for that. Instead, I want to thank him for providing yet another opportunity answer the question that so many in Red State America are asking as we debate should Dreamers stay or should they go: Are the young Hispanics who are eligible for Deferred Action or Childhood Arrivals or DACA terrorizing the country we know and love?

Researcher John Lott tried to make the same argument as Delonas in research he did with Maricopa County RICO money, implying that the Arizona’s prisons are bursting at the seams with Dreamers.

"Unfortunately, if the goal of DACA is to give citizenship to a particularly law-abiding group of undocumented immigrants, it is accomplishing the opposite of what it was intended,” Lott wrote in the report.

His findings were ignored by most mainstream media, but sated the anti-Dreamer hunger felt by many on the right.

"Illegal aliens in general, and 'dreamers' in particular, have been a nightmare for Arizona," David Horowitz wrote about Lott's research in the Conservative Review.

Not quite.

There are major flaws in Lott’s findings. You can’t be a Dreamer if you have a criminal background. Nor are you eligible for DACA status if you were sent to this country by the Mexican cartels or Central American gangs. Young  people who are just generally nasty are excluded, too.

But don’t be ashamed about your lack of DACA knowledge. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, the least favorite politician in his own family, made a similar mistake when he asked the Capitol Police to deport all Dreamers who showed up for President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Duh, you can’t deport them now, numbnutz, that’s what the “deferred action” in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals means.

Just to clarify for the researcher, the congressman, and many of you, DACA eligibility requires proof that:

• You entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and must have continuously lived in the country for at least five years
• You graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED here.
• You have good moral character
• You passed criminal background checks and reviews.

Conversely, those kind of qualifications will never earn you membership into one of the nation’s primo gangs.

Not to say that Dreamers never commit crimes. Facebook conservatives were hyper with indignation by this headline out of San Diego last week:

“Agents arrest 2 DACA recipients for involvement in human smuggling.”

That’s two out of 800,000, mind you.

Not surprisingly, the headline was written by the Border Patrol itself on a news release issued after the arrests of seven people, including a 22-year-old DACA recipient and a 20-year-old whose DACA protections had expired.

Many people thought the anti-Dreamer focus was political and deliberate, ignoring the news that five of the suspects weren’t DACA recipients; in fact, one was a U.S. citizen. San Diego activist Andrea Guerrero said vilifying “entire groups of people based on isolated incidents is irresponsible and unhelpful.”

Border Patrol public information officer Theron Francisco denied in a statement that there was a political agenda behind the press release. Never mind that San Diego’s National Border Patrol Council Local 1613 issued this political tweet supporting the president’s anti-immigration policies last year after Trump was elected:

“Its (sic) #MorninginAmerica w/ new #Leadership having the will to #SecureTheBorder and #EnforceTheLaw #Border Security #BorderPatrol #BuildTheWall.”

Someone later deleted the tweet.

By now, though, you’re demanding an answer to our original question: Are Dreamers a bunch of desperados?

An extensive study by the Cato Institute says unequivocally that they are not.

Surely, that's more garbage from snowflake academics.


The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank funded by two of the nation’s leading conservatives, the Koch brothers.

“Despite individual news stories and anecdotes to the contrary,” the study concludes, “Dreamers are less crime prone than native-born Americans.”

Unless, of course, as Chief of Staff John Kelly suggested, they’re just “too lazy to get off their asses” and commit more crimes.

So I’ll agree with President Trump that “all Americans are dreamers.”

If you’ll agree that most Dreamers just want to be like us.

However, if “us” includes people like cartoonist Sean Delonas, I hope they set their sights a lot higher.

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Stuart Warner was the editor of New Times from 2017 to 2019. He has been a journalist since the stoned ages of 1969, playing a major role on teams that won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the author of the biography JOCK: A Coach's Story.