Trump’s DACA ax makes life rough for students

The leaders of five large Maryland public school systems called on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the state legislature, and congressional representatives to continue protecting the rights of DACA beneficiaries in the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement of its intent to end the DACA program, according to a press release issued by Prince George’s County Public Schools.


DACA march in Philadelphia, Sept. 5 (Joe Piette / Flickr CC)

Led by Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell, signatories to an Open Letter include: Anne Arundel County Public Schools superintendent George Arlotto, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises, Howard County Public Schools interim superintendent Michael J Martirano, and Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith.

They stated: “We ask you to continue to uphold Maryland’s emphasis on the values of equity and opportunity by continuing support of the Maryland Dream Act, legislation that supports the education, lawful employment, and legal authorization of immigrant students to drive and was approved overwhelmingly by the voters of Maryland in a 2012 referendum.”

We have reported on President Donald Trump’s pledge to end DACA within six months, assuming Congress fails to act by that time, but the future of kids who are already here hasn’t been spelled out clearly.

The open letter from five major Maryland superintendents says Mr Trump’s plan is “a direct threat to Maryland’s economic stability and safety, as it will strip students of their ability to work and drive legally, pay taxes, and pursue post-secondary opportunities.”

Verletta White, the interim superintendent of Baltimore County schools, was the only large school district leader in the area not to sign the letter. But the Baltimore Sun reported that Mychael Dickerson, her chief of staff, said Ms White supports the statement and has signed on to similar letters written by other groups of superintendents.

Bad for business

Carla Chavarria, 24, is a Phoenix entrepreneur who owns a digital marketing firm and a fitness apparel line. She came to the US from Mexico when she was 7 and is a beneficiary of the DACA program, according to Voice of America.

She’s all set to purchase a home later this month and her renewal application for DACA, due in November, is in the works. DACA recipients have to re-register to renew their leave to stay in the US every two years.

“It’s hard being a business owner as it is, especially with being young and being a woman and someone who’s an immigrant,” VOA quoted her as saying. “It’s already hard as it is. Now having DACA being taken away, I’m sort of like in limbo right now.”

Bad for the future

And if adults are in limbo, just imagine the effect on DACA kids.

The Sun quoted Ashley Peña, the student member on the Baltimore City school board, as saying that city students should be able to focus on their education without worrying about themselves or their family members facing deportation. “For a student to know their education is in jeopardy is something no one should go through,” she said.

Bad for colleges and universities

News is also coming in from colleges and universities across America, who are resoundingly pushing back against Mr Trump’s decision. Although Mr Trump may be right—and he is certainly within his rights as president—to end the DACA program, most university counselors and leaders say it would be wrong to deport children.

  • The University of Connecticut expressed “grave concerns”: “cruel, unjustified and ultimately self-defeating.”
  • Notre Dame supports DACA, saying it had given status to “young people who have done nothing wrong, most of whom have only known life in the United States and who will make important contributions to it.”
  • Indiana University said it was “deeply disappointed in the Trump administration’s decision.”
  • The University of Washington said terminating DACA “threatens to erode our nation as a democracy”: the campus does not have to “provide immigration officials with information about our students or allow immigration officials to enter UW classrooms or residence halls without a court order.”
  • The five chancellors of the University of Massachusetts system condemned the action, calling it “an affront to our core values”: the campus police “will not voluntarily partner with law enforcement agencies to enforce non-criminal, non-terrorism related immigration actions.”
  • The University of Texas said DACA was necessary for the US and Texas: immigrants “help us secure our nation, care for our people, foster economic growth, and provide scientific expertise and innovation that improves the human condition.”

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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