As a teacher in San Diego, CA (aka Right On The Border), the recent rescinding of DACA has been a hot button topic at our school. There has been a lot of tension and confusion around what this means for our undocumented scholars and/or their families. Our counseling department did a wonderful job of clearing up the confusion and giving us as teachers a toolbox for understanding and communicating with concerned scholars. Here are some highlights from what they shared.
DACA is not the same as the Dream Act
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal program which gives its recipients protection from deportation for 2 years and eligibility for a social security number and work permit if they meet the criteria. This is set to be rescinded in 6 months if there is no action from Congress.
The Dream Act is a state program and what the Dream Act entails varies by state. In California, this includes eligibility for California colleges with in state tuition and possible financial aid. This is still active and in place, however, it could be affected by the removal of DACA by preventing Dreamers from participating in work study programs.
What Happens Next
No new DACA applications will be accepted, however, currently pending applications will still be processed and approved.
Current DACA recipients whose DACA expires before March 5 MUST reapply by October 5 in order to maintain their DACA protections for 2 more years. Current work permits are valid until their expiration date.
DACA recipients should not travel abroad as those protections (advance parole) are no longer in place. This means no study abroad for current college students and no visiting family abroad.
The Department of Homeland Security has stated that they will not proactively provide information to ICE. No one really knows what that means…
What to Tell Your Students
You might have students who are feeling very uneasy about this right now. Don’t tell them it will be okay because it might not be. They might be concerned that the government has a list of their immigration status and where they live. That is a valid concern. They might be concerned about scheduled ICE raids. That is also valid.
Do encourage them to apply for college. The Dream Act is still in place and the University of California is adamant about continuing and expanding support for Dreamers. This includes help with employment even without DACA protections.
Do encourage families to have a child care/family preparedness plan should parents or guardians be deported.
Do encourage them to know their rights. Don’t open the door without a warrant. They have the right to remain silent. They have the right to refuse to sign anything without a lawyer present. They have the right to a lawyer and a phone call.
Do be there for them and allow them to express how they’re feeling. Because this really sucks.
Know the Law
In the state of California schools are not permitted to share any information on immigrations status or any other school records without a warrant. ICE is also not permitted to conduct raids on school campuses. School should be a safe place for students.
Finally, Language is Important
The proper terminology is “undocumented.” No human is illegal. If you hear other students using the incorrect term, correct them. Words are powerful. Wield them carefully.