Defending DACA Unifies Education Advocates From Opposite Sides of the Debate

Sep 6, 2017 12:00:00 AM


President Donald Trump chose to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a protection put in place by former President Barack Obama for undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as children. The Trump administration will delay action on this decision ("action" in this case means throwing around 800,000 law-abiding young people out of the only country they’ve ever known because of decisions they did not make) for six months in the hope that Congress can put together a bill that approximates what Obama had already done.

At least the response is encouraging

The reaction to Trump's decision has been swift and it has been largely negative. Just hop on Twitter and search for "DACA" to see what I mean. Some of the nation's most notable public figures, including Obama on his Facebook account, have written responses to Trump's actions. But it wasn't just Obama who used his platform to decry the current president's misguided position. Some of the education world's biggest names put aside their usual disagreements to offer a unified opposition to Trump's decision.

Something we can all agree on

When students are terrified to go to school because ICE agents could grab them and send them by force to a country they don't even remember, it makes a lot of sense that educators, in particular, would want to speak up for those kids. Randi Weingarten is the president of the nation’s second largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and someone those of us who support charter schools tend to disagree with a lot, but we can certainly endorse her words about the ending of DACA, which she announced on her Twitter account. La Comadre's Audrey Dow wrote about how her father is "a living example of how immigrants make this country great and why opportunities for them to go to school and work benefit all of us." Ramiro Flores Turrubiates, a charter school teacher who grew up as an undocumented immigrant, wrote that some of his students, who are undocumented themselves, have started to feel like it's useless to try because they think they might be deported. Denver Public Schools Superintendent  Tom Boasberg said that deporting undocumented students would be "catastrophic for DPS and the city of Denver." Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2017 Camille Jones wrote an open letter to Trump, who she met at the White House earlier this year as part of her award, about one of her students who is convinced that "[Trump's] going to kick me out of the country!" Stand for Children's  Jonah Edelman wrote, "[DREAMers] deserve an opportunity to continue pursuing their goals." Stand for Children's Twitter account posted ways to help DACA recipients in potential upcoming legal battles. Here's Checker Finn on the young boy he and his wife mentored who became a DACA recipient: "He’s a social worker helping counsel elderly people and their families about sensitive, sad, and gnarly end-of-life issues," among so many other things. Chicago English teacher and blogger Ray Salazar shared messages from the DACA recipients he has taught over the years. He wrote, "They surprised me. They didn’t respond with disillusionment or despair or any sense of fear. They showed their courage." "They’re Dreamers because they work and study, humbly and with no sense of entitlement, to EARN their stake in the American dream," wrote school board member Gary Hardie. Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson vowed to stand by the Memphis district's immigrant students in a tweet. Nina Rees urged Congress to act on the Senate bill called the DREAM Act of 2017. Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf put out a statement urging Congress to protect these young people. "Uprooting them at this stage of their young lives would be inconsistent with our nation’s values and history," Cerf said. "I implore the Congress to replace partisanship with compassion and to do what is right for hundreds of thousands of innocent young people." Former Secretary of Education  John B. King Jr., now the Education Trust's president and CEO, said, "DACA has benefited communities, schools and colleges—but most importantly, this program has helped students by giving them the chance to attain a higher education so they can build a better future for themselves, their families and the country they love." The National Network of State Teachers of the Year was unequivocal: "We are proud of accomplishments of the undocumented students that we have had the pleasure to know and teach."

Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.

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