By Ari Bloomekatz
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was once dubbed a “champion of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced Tuesday that the Trump administration was rescinding DACA, an Obama-era program that allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth to live in the United States without the constant threat of deportation.
The blow to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides renewable two-year work permits to some 800,000 immigrants, reverberated across the country and there have already been protests in several cities. In many places, the protests have been led by students, young people, and educators.
“We are angry for all the young undocumented immigrants that haven’t turned 16 yet and are waiting to apply for DACA. We are angry, for all the DACA parents that could lose the job that supported their family. We are angry, for all the plans that DACA recipients had that now seem impossible. But we are also strong,” said Thais Marques, a spokesperson for Movimiento Cosecha, which organized a protest at Trump Tower in New York City that resulted in the arrests of nine undocumented youth. Other allies were later arrested demanding the release of those who are undocumented.
“Our strength and resilience have never depended on a work permit,” Marques said.
Educators across the country, many of whom have students who are undocumented, were also furious and decried the Trump administration’s decision.
“Undocumented students are welcome in my classroom. Teachers will build [a] movement to defend students from Trump #DACArepeal #NoOneIsIllegal” Garfield High School (Seattle) teacher and Rethinking Schools editor Jesse Hagopian wrote on Twitter.
Grace Cornell Gonzales, a former elementary school teacher who is an editor of Rethinking Bilingual Education, wrote that “the future of DACA and our undocumented students is the future of our country.”
“As educators, we owe it to these young people to do everything in our power to fight for them — and against this xenophobic administration that is playing with their lives for its own political gain,” Gonzales said.
Students also helped lead the protests Tuesday. In Denver, students walked out of classes in several schools in protest of the Trump administration’s decision.
Even though the Trump administration official announced it was rescinding the program, the fate of the “Dreamers” is a bit unclear as the burden is now on Congress to figure out what to do with their legal status. The program will begin getting phased out on March 5, 2018 unless something is done, effectively putting a six-month moratorium on enforcement.
Many teachers in recent days have asked Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project for resources relating to DACA and immigration. We’ve compiled a short list below:
“Qué es Deportar? Teaching from Students’ Lives” by Sandra Osorio: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/que-es-deportar-teaching-from-students-lives
“Deporting Elena’s Father” by Melissa Bollow Tempel: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/deporting-elenas-father
“Who Can Stay Here? Documentation and Citizenship in Children’s Literature” by Grace Cornell Gonzales: https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/who-can-stay-here-documentation-and-citizenship-in-childrens-literature
“Resources for Educators Supporting Dreamers” from the NEA: http://educationvotes.nea.org/neaedjustice/daca-resources/
“U.S.-Mexico War: ‘We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God’” — reading by Howard Zinn; teaching activity by Bill Bigelow: https://zinnedproject.org/materials/us-mexico-war-tea-party/
A great list of books for teaching about immigration: https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/immigration/
Photo credits: Gili Getz and screenshot of Fox31.
Ari Bloomekatz is the managing editor of Rethinking Schools. You can follow him on Twitter @bloomekatz and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.