‘AmericanDreamLand’ Is the Discord Server Where Dreamers Are Organizing After the End of DACA
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration was rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that shielded some 800,000 undocumented Americans brought to the country as children from being deported. Thousands of recipients, referred to as Dreamers, protested the announcement in the streets, while others convened online in a dedicated Discord server to share their fears and discuss what to do next. Soon, pro-Trump trolls followed them there.
The DACA Discord server, nicknamed AmericanDreamLand, was originally created last year by user O.A.D, but the channel has exploded in popularity since news reports began circulating in August that Trump might soon fulfill his campaign promise to end DACA. "The room grew from 50 members to over 600 in 1 week," O.A.D told us in a Discord direct message. The server now has nearly 700 members.
AmericanDreamLand has become a place for DACA recipients and their family and friends to gather information and talk about the anxiety that comes with learning you could lose the right to live in the country you call home. Dreamers are a relatively small portion of the estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, and are spread out across the country—many have never talked to fellow DACA recipients in person.
"I mean, there are only 800,000 of us, spread thin across the US. You can go your entire life without meeting one," Ardent, a moderator of the Dreamer server who identified as a DACA recipient told us. Being a Dreamer is "a very, very difficult route to take in life...Many of us think we are alone. That sort of isolation of circumstances breeds anxiety, depression, among other things." That's why the forum is so important: It's a place for Dreamers to talk with others facing the same uncertain road ahead.
"It's nice knowing that we were sort of a place that people could come to for information and comfort. I know I wouldn't be half as knowledgeable about DACA had I not joined the server," Kev, who said he is a former DACA recipient, explained.
"It's been like a venting space for me," dreamer_SE, another member of the server told us. "I definitely feel some relief that I'm not alone."
Before the server was created, Dreamers were similarly dispersed across the internet as they are throughout the country. "I noticed that the Dreamer community was scattered across various old and new forums throughout the internet," O.A.D explained.
"Most of these forums had Dreamers asking questions trying to seek answers, but the forums had long ago died and [were] no longer frequented by the creators or its members. So I figured why not create a chat room where Dreamers or other people can communicate instantly?"
After the announcement came that DACA was ending, a number of trolls from Centipede Central, a right-wing Discord server that originally formed out of the biggest pro-Trump subreddit, r/the_donald, started to arrive in AmericanDreamLand. Centipede Central, which recently came under scrutiny for hate speech, set up their own channel to discuss DACA, and members there are encouraging others to head to the Dreamer's server to troll.
Moderators in the DACA server told us that some users from Centipede Central have entered the chat to intentionally cause confusion or try to obtain personal information from members. "In most cases they pretend to be Dreamers or have family dreamers, and then spread [misinformation] or concern—also there were people trying to bait dreamers into going to 'meetings' and giving up personal info," Jeb, a user on the DACA server who identified himself as a former Republican who supports DACA, told us.
"I was just banned from the DACA discord," a user from Centipede Central, The House of Representatives, wrote in the server's DACA channel. "Oh well. Someone said 'without a decent income, living in Mexico is horrid' I said 'illegals and dreamers make life horrid for people who did the right thing.'"
Other users suggested calling immigration officials on members of the DACA server:
Centipede Central users have also utilized their own DACA channel to monitor the Dreamers' server. They've posted screenshots of conversations happening there and have used them as fodder for jokes or reactions.
"There are a few trolls on here who usually just spam us with 'go back illegals' or 'why are you stealing our resources' but most of us try to start a smart conversation with them," user HurricaneDACA, a member of the Dreamer's server, told us. "We've also been extremely welcoming to every DACA holder regardless of nation, religion or sexual preference. We are all in this together and we really encourage others to join us in this difficult journey since most of their real life friends don't know they have DACA status."
One of the moderators of the DACA server, binarize, told us that occasionally, someone will arrive from a right-wing server because they have a genuine interest in learning more. Recently, someone with the username "maga" came in to seek a new perspective on immigration.
"Despite him disagreeing with basically the entirety of DACA, we all managed to have an incredibly productive conversation," binarize said. "That's something that I think a lot of DACA recipients want, just communication. To be heard, not just listened to, yknow?"
Another member of the DACA server, Deathstroke, added that since "maga" didn't show up typing belligerently in all-caps, they decided to try talking. After an hour-long conversation, "maga" said that although they still disagreed with DACA as an executive order, they were willing to support legislation to help Dreamers.
"We shouldn't be afraid of everyone who disagrees with DACA," Deathstroke said. "We might even change a few minds of those who aren't crazy and set in their ways."