Tuesday Reading List: Protect the DREAMers

Besides the eerie sense of looming conflict with North Korea, the big news of the day is what President Trump plans to do with the "DACA" program. There are significant education implications. The New York Times reports:

For months, an anxious and uncertain President Trump was caught between opposing camps in the West Wing prodding him to either scrap or salvage an Obama-era program allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors to remain in the United States. Last week, with a key court deadline looming for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Mr. Trump, exasperated, asked his aides for “a way out” of a dilemma he created by promising to roll back the program as a presidential candidate, according to two people familiar with the exchange ... Congressional Republicans expect the administration to unveil some version of this stopgap solution on Tuesday, but Mr. Trump will not make the announcement himself. Instead, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will handle it at an 11 a.m. briefing.

At the risk of oversimplifying a complicated program, DACA protects immigrant children from deportation. Dara Lind at Vox wrote a thorough explanation of the concept:

The immigrants protected through DACA grew up in the US; people might not assume they are unauthorized immigrants, and they might not have even known it themselves until they were teenagers. The program was supposed to give them a chance to build a life here ... The prospect of DACA’s demise is throwing the program into sharp relief: calling attention to the “DREAMers” who’ve been able to benefit from it, and the ways in which their lives have been changed over the past five years.

Ending DACA is a terrible idea. If you want to get a sense of how this program affects individuals, you should read an interview I conducted a few years ago with a young woman who benefitted from the program. The "DREAMers" grew up in America, participated in American schooling, and are poised to be a part of the future of this country. Excluding them from that future because of their parents' aversion to paperwork is borderline evil.

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But don't just take my word for it! Eric Gorski of Chalkbeat reports from Denver:

Rolling back protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children would prove “catastrophic” for Denver Public Schools and the city, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said in a statement Thursday. Boasberg joined other school and community leaders from across the country in speaking up as President Donald Trump is expected to announce any day the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA. “Our schools and our community are strengthened by our city’s rich diversity and open arms,” Boasberg said. “The DACA program has helped bring wonderfully talented and critically needed teachers to our classrooms and has provided peace of mind and legal status to thousands of immigrant children and families who make our city and our schools great.”

Thanks for your leadership, Superintendent! As Isabel Fattal of The Atlantic discovered, higher education leaders also are fighting:

Amid the torrent of pleas to President Trump this week to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are letters written by several university presidents. In a noteworthy showing of direct engagement in political discourse, the presidents of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Amherst, NYU, and Duke, for example, have written personal letters this week ... An estimated 10,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from college each year. The letters written by university presidents emphasize the good character of undocumented students and their contributions as members of the education system and future members of the workforce. In his letter, Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber writes, “I expect that the extraordinary young people at Princeton and other institutions of higher education who have benefited from the DACA program will be leaders in building the innovation economy that your administration has championed.”
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The politics of this issue are toxic, as the President spent years campaigning on the idea that immigrants are to blame for the misfortunes of this country's underemployed citizens. While Trump and his supporters point fingers, the young people who are thriving in this country are at risk of being deported. Whatever happens today, there will be more ways to protect DREAMers. The issue likely will end up in Congress, so folks should reach out to their representatives and express support for the striving DREAMers in their communities.

Have a great week!