EDITORIAL: Dreams Deferred
DACA, an Obama-era immigration policy may be revoked. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as DACA, was an executive order put in place in 2012 by the Obama administration. DACA protects immigrants that arrived in the United States before the age of 16 and who’ve lived in the states consistently since June 15, 2007. I is imperative that there be an immigration policy that protects DACA recipients. On September 5th, President Trump instructed the Department of Homeland Security to roll back DACA protections, effectively terminating protection for DACA recipients, unless Congress can create a law to replace DACA in the next six months.
Trump has wavered his stance on DACA. Though he initially described it as an “unfair system,” he later tweeted, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” Trump’s statements have led to alarm in DACA recipients, called Dreamers, as well renewed pressure on Congress to work towards immigration reforms. Considering that meaningful immigration law hasn’t been negotiated since Reagan in 1980, the odds of a solution being passed are slim at best.
We must remember that many members of the Tam community are affected by immigration issues. Some are themselves undocumented, while others have undocumented family members. All deserve, at the very least, the security of stable immigration policy, which Trump’s DACA antics undermine.
According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 12.2 percent of California students in grades K-12 have an undocumented parent. In addition, the Migration Policy Institute reported that an approximated 72,300 undocumented students in California (an estimated half of which receive DACA protection) are enrolled in state universities. They don’t qualify for student loans or most financial aid.
Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke reinforced the county’s position on immigration status in a public letter, January 31.
“In these uncertain times for our immigrant students and families, it is imperative that our schools send the message that we are committed to protecting the right of every student to attend public school, regardless of the immigration status of a student or of a student’s family members,” she wrote.
Tam English Language Development Coordinator Mike Levinson echoed the concerns of undocumented students, saying “There are students [at Tam] in certain situations where their family might be in danger, or they might be in danger of deportation and being targeted by the government, especially after a promise was made that if you turned in your information, you will not be investigated … this is very serious for them.”
While all of Marin’s representatives in state and federal government have made their commitment to protecting Dreamers, there are still plenty of things that can be done by Tam students to make their voice heard. We can be vocal about our concerns about the effects that ending DACA could have on our community. Encourage friends who live in Republican controlled districts to contact their representatives and voice support for Dreamers. Support local groups that aid Dreamers, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Canal Alliance. Above all, make sure that those protected by DACA are aware of their legal rights when dealing with law enforcement.
The termination of DACA is a community issue playing out on a national stage. Undocumented immigrants are too often denied their voices because of political insecurity, and it’s our responsibility, as fellow community members, stand up for them.