As pundits predicted, President Donald Trump sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do his dirty work yesterday, when the White House announced its plans to eliminate the Obama administration's DACA program. Corey Mitchell at Education Week reviews the impact on school children:
The decision leaves the undocumented residents, an undetermined number of whom work and learn in the nation's K-12 schools, in a state of limbo. The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates 250,000 school-age children have become DACA-eligible since President Barack Obama began the program in 2012. The Trump administration's decision could also affect the lives of children born in the United States. Millions of students in the nation's public and private schools are the children of undocumented immigrants, the Washington-based Pew Research Center estimates.
Carolyn Phenicie and Mark Keierleber of The 74 looked to education leaders for their reactions and found consistent condemnation:
Leaders at the Education Trust, currently helmed by former Obama Education Secretary John King, are “disappointed" ... Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that with Tuesday’s announcement, Trump is “breaking the promise” to students and educators who thought the president would treat Dreamers with “great heart" ... JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a statement that attention must now be turned to Congress for a legislative fix. “To the young people affected by today’s decision: You belong in school,” Bartoletti said. “Continue to learn and grow and become your best selves. This nation — your nation — needs every bit of the contribution you will make to our common future.”
Education Leaders of Color, an organization that dedicates itself to elevating the voices of diverse leaders in public schooling, shared a strong statement:
"With today’s announcement, this White House is doubling down on its de facto anti-family policy,” said Layla Avila, CEO and Executive Director of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC). “To be clear, ending DACA puts 780,000 young people at risk of deportation, whose families will be torn apart as a result of overly aggressive immigration enforcement policies. These changes will cost us morally and economically: the Center for American Progress estimates that ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade ..."
As Philissa Cramer of Chalkbeat discovered, it's not just students who are affected by the president's cruel decision:
The morning after Donald Trump was elected president, a few teachers within Teach For America stayed home. The educators had secured the right to work through DACA, the Obama administration program that allows young adults who came to this country illegally as children to temporarily live and work without fear of deportation ... Teach For America is joining many other education organizations in continuing to lobby Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
I do not usually use this space to advocate for direct action, but today I am making an exception. The lives of hundreds of thousands of young people - and millions more, when we include their families - depend upon Congress finding its conscience on this issue. Please call your representatives and tell them that you want DREAMers to have a pathway to citizenship. Remind Congress that the humanity of young people should not be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations around the president's idiotic border wall.
When you talk to your representatives, do your best to make your plea personal. If you know a student, teacher, or family affected by the rescinding of DACA, talk about them to your Congressperson. Administrations that enact racist, nativist policies - and make no mistake, this is most certainly both - use dehumanization as a tool to achieve divisive political ends. Just because the president and his attorney general are dyed-in-the-wool bigots doesn't mean that every member of Congress has to follow suit.
Have a constructive day ...