Sounding the all-clear on DACA because the new administration hasn’t gutted the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program yet is like stepping out into the French Quarter immediately after the next hurricane passes, looking up and down the street, not noticing any floodwaters, and declaring, “Whew!”
Optimism is premature; preparedness is not. I want to share five things you can do to support students and young adults who immigrated to the United States as children without documentation. I’m especially concerned about so-called DACAmented students because I teach so many of them at our public high school in downtown Los Angeles.
For example, Salvador Not-His-Real-Name, who diligently stayed in class after homeroom to print out some homework on the torrentially pouring morning of January 20. After a few minutes of focused studiousness, Sal looked up from under his Rio Grande long lashes to ask if it was true that Donald J. Trump was now president. He pondered my confirmation for a while, then declared himself ready to move up from special to general ed. Did I think he was ready, Sal wanted to know.
Definitely, he is. Sal is way more social now than at the start of ninth grade. Back then he looked only down and carried a flabby burden. Nowadays, in the middle of 11th grade, he’s looking fit and helps his pals distribute Breakfast in the Classroom, which sometimes offers very tasty French toast and other times pancakes with the syrup already inside. You can tell when the light of learning has turned on in a kid and Sal’s light is shining from the west down to the east.
I hate to think about him and the (as of March 2015, according to the National Immigration Law Center) 664,607 other DACA recipients – each of whom, like all of us, have their own lights within – being deported. So it’s with Salvador and those 664,606 others in mind that I share these suggestions for teachers and other allies of DACAmented or undocumented youth.
- Refer students to WeOwntheDream.org to learn about DACA and determine their eligibility.
- Support the Bridge Act, a bipartisan bid sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to protect current DACA recipients and restrict sharing of applicant information with immigration enforcement.
- Publicize scholarship opportunities such as those listed on UnitedWeStand.org so that students can visualize a path to higher education.
- Read, share & sign the open letter to President Trump my educator colleagues and I wrote in support of DACA. It’s posted on Educators4Excellence.org.
- Make these resources available to all students.
Let me further suggest a playlist for DACA activism. Honesty: I am not a huge fan of “Imagine” by John Lennon despite the “dreamer” reference. The John song I would choose is “Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)” with its catchy “do it now” refrain – this despite some uncharming between-the-chorus lyrics that I try to look past, the way I imagine supporters of DJ Trump look past his unkind remarks. From there I would go “If You Want Me to Stay” by Sly and the Family Stone, into “D’Yer Mak’r” by Led Zeppelin with its many pleading repetitions of “don’t go.” These are good songs to listen to while trying to get through to senators you’re urging to support the Bridge Act. Finish strong with The Smiths: “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.”