Protecting and defending undocumented students in California

Since President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, UnidosUS has been working tirelessly to ensure that those who are eligible to renew their DACA by October 5 have the information and resources necessary to do so.

There are nearly 800,000 undocumented youth who have benefitted from the DACA program, with thousands more that could be eligible, but now will be unable to benefit from the program.

Absent congressional action or an unlikely effort by the president to reverse his decision to rescind the program, there will be even more students attending schools across the country that could be at risk of contact by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

DACA - UnidosUSBecause DACA was given six months to “wind down,” the program is currently set to be cancelled on March 6, 2018. While those whose DACA would expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 are eligible to renew prior to October 5, those whose DACA would expire beginning March 6, 2018 are not. This means that every day, DACA students around the country could lose their status.

“We can’t ignore this issue, because it’s impacting students and parents, and it will have repercussions in our schools,” said Feliza Ortiz-Licon, Senior Director of K-16 Programs at UnidosUS at a recent roundtable in California on what can be done to protect both immigrant and DACAmented students.

You can hear more from education advocates on the effect of the Trump administration’s decision in this Univision segment, available in Spanish.

Rómulo Avelica and his daughters
Rómulo Avelica and his daughters

Before the Trump administration’s decision on DACA was announced, UnidosUS spoke to Ricardo Mireles, the Executive Director of Academia Avance, an UnidosUS Affiliate and charter school in Los Angeles. Academia Avance was initially in the news when Fatima Avelica recorded her father being detained by ICE as he was dropping her off at school.

Since then, Mireles and Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director at Semillas, another charter school and UnidosUS Affiliate, formed the CASAS (California Schools Are Sanctuaries) Coalition, aimed at ensuring that all schools in California have the knowledge and resources necessary to protect undocumented children and preserve their right to an education.

The Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA affects roughly 200,000 individuals in California, meaning that the work of the CASAS coalition and other advocates to protect the right all children have to an education is especially urgent. With hundreds of thousands of DACAmented youth thrust into uncertainty after the Trump administration’s decision, all states, not just California, are facing this issue.

While organizations like Mission Asset Fund—an UnidosUS Affiliate—are offering scholarships to DACA youth, with some states pledging to do the same, it is not enough.

We are committed to working with allies in Congress to protect DREAMers—permanently. There is bipartisan agreement that we must not leave DREAMers in limbo and let their futures slip away. We will not rest until DACAmented folks are protected, and able to access opportunities in the only country that they have ever known.

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