Senseless Delay on DACA Decision Harms Students and Schools

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A woman wears her graduation cap to support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A woman wears her graduation cap to support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

San Antonio is a city that reflects the best of the United States in so many ways. The rich, diverse culture it boasts today tells the story of its past – one that is defined by an intersection of international cultures older than Texas itself.

As enterprising immigrants have flocked here over the past 300 years, they have created much of what we celebrate in our city. The outlook has never been brighter for San Antonio – our neighborhoods are bustling with activity, our economy is humming, wages are rising, and we continue to attract new talent across backgrounds and industries.

But for some of our most promising young people, the future remains wrought with anxiety. There’s a need for urgent action on the status of Dreamers – Americans who were brought to this country as children by undocumented relatives. Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program began in 2012, roughly 800,000 Dreamers have been shielded from the threat of deportation and allowed to fully contribute to their communities.

The current administration announced it will allow the policy to expire in March and has placed the question of legislation to protect Dreamers before Congress – which is threatening not to deliver such action. Futures have been thrown into limbo.

These individuals have done everything right. They have passed background checks. They have paid taxes. They have come out of the shadows to work hard and contribute to the only country they’ve ever known to be home. As the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, I can tell you from experience that their contributions have been significant.

We have DACA recipients in our district and city right now who are model students and leaders inside their classroom and out. Others have graduated and gone on to strengthen our workforce or to enlist in our armed services. We have DACA recipients supporting our children in school. Some 20,000 teachers around the country are Dreamers and they’re an invaluable resource, especially in places like San Antonio that need talented bilingual educators, aides, and paraprofessionals.

From my perspective, it is clear that losing these rising stars would do deep and lasting damage – not just to individuals and families, but to the healthy fabric of entire schools, districts and by extension our cities and country.

Indeed, even as we continue holding out hope for a fix, damage is being done. Since October, DACA recipients have not been able to renew their status. For those who remain at risk, the fear is constant and paralyzing. Their friends and families, peers, and colleagues also anxiously await a just resolution. The message being sent has reverberated through our community – I have seen too many students question whether the U.S. truly values them, when the truth is that we derive our strength from our diversity.

Since I started this job, my focus every day has been on how we can best equip our students with the tools to achieve long-term success. On many fronts, we are making great progress: More kids are graduating, going to college, and finding jobs. But for students and educators facing this imminent and seismic threat, everything beyond that is simply on hold. It’s a bitter injustice.

The DACA recipients I know are talented, hard-working, patriotic, and fiercely perseverant. You probably know them too. They contribute everyday to San Antonio and the U.S. And the fact that they are facing the threat of deportation is senseless.

It makes no sense to tell rising stars who embody American values and were educated in American schools that they can’t pursue the American Dream – that they must be punished for decisions made by others.

It makes no sense to tell much-needed teachers in the U.S. to go teach somewhere else, or entrepreneurs to start their business in San Salvador instead of San Antonio.

It makes no sense to tell Dreamers who love the U.S. so much they’d risk their lives for her, that they aren’t American enough to serve in our military.

It makes no sense.

The story of Dreamers is the story of so many San Antonians before them – hopeful immigrants with a dogged determination to build a brighter future here, ambitious doers eager to contribute. And the story of San Antonio is the story of the U.S. – a land of immigrants whose contributions have enhanced its culture and boosted its prosperity.

This is not about politics, and it should not be controversial; it is in everyone’s best interest to finally resolve this and quickly approve a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to our country as children.

 

7 thoughts on “Senseless Delay on DACA Decision Harms Students and Schools

  1. As a legal immigrant, I am strongly against illegal immigrants (including DACA recipients) from getting ahead of the line towards citizenship. I just don’t see a valid argument for illegals to be given priority or privilege (unrestrained work permits, where they can work for any employee/start business) when there is a significant backlog for legal immigrants. There are legal immigrants who are well educated, contribute to the society, pay their taxes and are an asset to the society. Why should DACA be given preference over the legal immigrants ?

    • Dear John Doe,

      Your use of the word ‘illegal’ indicates a racist and bigoted bias. The term dehumanizes people to a criminal category. It basically says children who were brought to this country are not worthy to be considered as human beings with human rights.

      DACA recipients are also well educated, pay taxes and make a contribution to society. Their arrival into U.S. is a result of U.S. policies that include pull facors (cheap labor needs of our economy) and push factors that displaced and disrupted immigrants ability to remain in their own countries (adverse of NAFTA on foreign industries and agriculture). We are all part of the same global economy. Let us not conveniently select certain facts to reinforce our biased view of the world.

      I would also like to point out that people have been immigrating and traveling across the U.S. southwest for thousands of years, long before the arrival of European immigrants.

      Juan González

      • Hello Juan,

        They are illegal because they broke the law while immigrating. I am an immigrant and moved here legally. If you or the citizens of USA feel the immigration system is broken (I agree it is broken), the best option is to work on amending the laws instead of breaking them.

        If a single-mother commits a crime, she still goes to prison. No one is going to give her a break just because she has a child to take care. DACA immigrants are economic migrants who should not be given priority over legal immigrants who are still waiting in line. However, immigrants who are escaping a dangerous environment should be considered on a case by case basis.

        This country had already provided amnesty to millions of illegals in the 1980s. How many more times should this be repeated ? Doesn’t it enable more such illegal immigration ?

  2. Dear Mr Martinez please do everyone a favor and run your school district. Your political opinions are not needed nor have they been request8ed. Don’t be fooled san Antonio will turn on you in a second. You’re doing a great job at SAISD so just concentrate on that.

  3. While I sympathize with the plight of these youth, who through no fault of their own find themselves in a limbo, I do not agree with DACA.

    Bitter injustice is waiting 5, 10, 15 years for LPR status, while following all the rules & paying a lot of fees, to then see others get a quick turn around b/c someone else broke the law. Then these same people turn around & apply for their parents, who broke the law to begin with. I’ve seen something similar happen twice in my lifetime. And you know what happens after? Illegal entries spike in this country.

    The term illegal does not equate racist, bias, or dehumanizing. By definition it means not legal; not licit; it is descriptive of an action committed against the law. Against the law!
    http ://codes.findlaw.com/us/title-8-aliens-and-nationality/8-usc-sect-1325.html

    As an immigrant who served my country (the USA), and the child of a immigrant who fled true injustice, I get fed up with undocumented people crying fowl, because they might actually have to follow the rules. No other country in the world gives their undocumented immigrants as much help as we do, while legal immigrants are left to their own devices.

    As a tax paying citizen, I am bothered by the amount of funding we put towards immigration, while a large number of our children remain uninsured, and our youth unable to afford an education.

    And as a parent, I don’t appreciate my children being taught one sided political ideology instead of being given an unbiased education and taught critical thinking skills, so they can make their own decision, rather than parroting their professor/teacher’s opinion.

  4. Dear Joe,
    The true racism come from those that play the race card on this DACA issue. My nephew would have been born in San Antonio had his parents been able to get here, but they want to obey the law. My nephew’s aunt and parents were born into such a shit hole country that they had to build an iron curtain to keep citizens in. They have worked hard to make something of themselves and also want a better life for their children and family. They also want their son to be close to his aunt and grandmother here in the USA. However their dreams are slowed by those who cut in line and get due process protection once they arrive. My nephew was born in a country that does not even recognize him has a citizen while they wait. Shame on the those playing the race card! I am not a Republican, I am a Constitutionalist, Democrat demands to ignore the law, such as sanctuary cities, is the beginning of the end of our great country.

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