45* has announced he will end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which could mean deportation for hundreds of thousands of students.
In a public statement on Tuesday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the program, which began under former President Barack Obama in 2012, would gradually come to an end, and put the ball in Congress’ court to come to a legislative solution. Roughly 800,000 undocumented residents — also known as “Dreamers” — who were brought to the United States by their families before they turned 16 are directly impacted by the repeal of DACA, and their fate is now in the hands of the House and Senate.
DACA allows for undocumented young people to remain in the U.S. for at least two years as long as they enroll in college, hold a job, or serve in the military and have a clean criminal record. Prior to 45’s repeal of the program, undocumented people in the program could re-apply to stay in the U.S. every two years. Those currently in the program will keep their protections until they expire. However, according to the official memo circulated by the Department of Homeland Security, the administration will no longer accept new applications as of September 5.
Because DACA residents were brought to the U.S. at a young age, many are enrolled in school now. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 50.3 percent of students in public K-12 schools are minorities, largely due to the growing Latinx and Asian American populations and a declining white population. This means that more Latinx teachers will be necessary for future generations of students in America’s public schools, as students tend to learn more effectively when they have shared experiences with educators.
Given these statistics, it was expected that the decision would be unpopular with the education community. However, 45 may have underestimated the amount of blowback he would get for terminating the program. Following Jeff Sessions’ announcement on the end of the program, top education leaders condemned the decision.
Muriel Howard, the president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, called the White House’s new policy on Dreamers “unnecessary” and “cruel.” New York Board of Regents chancellor Betty A. Rosa said the White House was using “innocent children as pawns in a political game.” University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank published a lengthy statement promising to fully support at-risk students enrolled at the university:
— AASCU (@AASCU) September 5, 2017
— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) September 5, 2017
In addition to her statement in support of undocumented students, Chancellor Blank also reiterated that her university would refuse all requests from federal agencies about the immigration status of UW students, and that UW police would not be cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in investigating or arresting undocumented students unless they committed serious crimes impacting the campus.
Congress has approximately six months to pass legislation protecting Dreamers before the deportation process begins for undocumented residents whose DACA protections expire. Already, Republican senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) have expressed their willingness to work with Democrats to protect Dreamers and provide a path to citizenship.
(*EDITOR’S NOTE: GritPost.com is now exclusively referring to Donald Trump as “45.” Please read our official statement on Twitter explaining the decision.)
Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.