Like many of our peers in education (Chiefs for Change, Houston ISD, Boston Public Schools, Oklahoma City Public Schools), at least five former U.S. Secretaries of Education, and millions of Americans, we were stunned by the Trump administration's decision this week to eliminate protections for 800,000 DREAMers. As a nationally-focused organization that works in a range of urban contexts to advance socially just teaching, we know many of the teachers and students who bring their talents and stories to the learning communities we serve are DREAMers: undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children by parents who wanted their families to join in the promises of the American Dream. Through our direct support to school systems and teacher leaders, we work to cultivate equitable classroom environments where each student and teacher’s experiences are affirmed and celebrated so that, the moment they step foot in a classroom, their minds are focused on working to harness their limitless potential. Denying DREAMers the protections afforded through DACA creates inhumane chaos and directly challenges their opportunity to thrive. This decision affects us all and requires our persistent attention.
Much of the conversation since last Tuesday has focused on the qualities and contributions of DREAMers: 700,000 DACA recipients are in the workforce and pay taxes, 45 percent of DACA recipients are currently in school, 100 percent of DACA recipients have not committed a felony or other serious crime. Yes, these facts negate baseless economic and security justifications for ending DACA, but the reality is that there’s an even more important rationale for keeping and expanding the protections of DACA: DREAMers are humans. They are our friends, our neighbors, our students, and our colleagues. They live and work alongside us every day, adding beauty and richness to the social fabric of the only country they have ever known. Listen to some of their stories. They have upheld their promises to meet the requirements set forth by DACA, so it is our responsibility to ensure that our nation upholds its promise to them by demanding a permanent legislative solution.
So, as educators who work with and alongside DREAMers, what can we do?
Build knowledge: Several education organizations including Educators for Excellence, the American Federation of Teachers, Stand for Children, Teach For America, and the Education Trust are hosting a tele-town hall on Tuesday, September 12 to share stories, take your questions, and provide information about opportunities to support undocumented students in your classroom and beyond. You can register here.
Help students and parents understand their rights: Many districts have policies in place to prevent immigration officers from entering a campus without special authorization. Research your school or district’s policy and provide accessible materials such as these from Remezlca.
Support DREAMers in renewing DACA by October 5: Individuals whose DACA expires between September and October have until October 5 to renew for 2-years. Once a person’s DACA has expired, they will not be able to re-apply. United We Dream provides more information here.
Amplify DREAMer voices: Brave individuals like Leslie Arreanza and Jose Gonzalez are using their personal stories to challenge misconceptions and build momentum for Congressional action. Seek out opportunities to learn from their first-hand experiences as you have conversations with those around you.
Contact your Congressional Representatives: Direct appeals from constituents have been a powerful force in driving congressional action this year. Platforms such as this tool from FWD.us make it easier than ever to make your voice heard. It takes less than 1 minute to sign the petition AND get on the phone with your representative’s office.
We commit to taking action, and we value your partnership and accountability in doing our best for our undocumented students and peers. Will you join us?
Bonus: Watch this powerful statement from Superintendent Ricardo Carranza of Houston Independent School District.