These are anxious times for young people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that gave 800,000 immigrant youths temporary resident status and protection from deportation. President Trump’s mixed messages have done little to ease the uncertainty. The good news is that education advocates and organizations from across the political spectrum are united on their behalf.
After the announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that DACA would be terminated in March, AFT President Randi Weingarten convened a teleconference town hall on Sept. 12 for representatives from education and immigration organizations to discuss resources to share widely with teachers and to express solidarity with DACA students. They also vowed to keep the pressure on elected officials to produce a compassionate and fair legislative solution for young undocumented immigrants. Participants included representatives from Educators for Excellence, the Education Trust, Stand for Children and Teach for America, in addition to the National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream.
Those enrolled in DACA were children when they were brought here by their parents; this is the only country many of them have ever known. Many are students, or gainfully employed, including as public school teachers [see story]. It’s worth noting that DACA left many young people in the shadows because they could not raise the $500 in program fees, had minor run-ins with the law or simply fell outside of the eligibility guidelines, which restricted DACA participation to those who have lived continuously in the United States since 2007.
President Obama’s executive order was a humanitarian gesture at a time when few Republicans would work with him to pass the DREAM Act, a comprehensive bill that would include more people and provide a path to citizenship.
In New York, the UFT co-sponsored a DACA forum on Sept. 26 to keep families and students informed of their rights and to help teachers understand how they can assist students in this period of uncertainty. Our students and colleagues enrolled in DACA need to know we have their backs.