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Trump Administration’s Move to Rescind DACA by March Widely Criticized

September 18, 2017

The Trump Administration’s announcement on September 5 that the Deferred Acceptance for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be phased out by early March 5 was widely criticized by California education stakeholders.

The California Department of Education issued this statement:

“Our country made an honest deal with these students – study hard, earn your degree, and you will get a fair chance to compete for college. We should keep deals, not break them. We should support dreams, not destroy them,” Torlakson said. “These students embody the American dream. Their hard work, energy, dedication, and diverse backgrounds help them contribute to our economy, while adding to the rich cultural heritage that makes California a dynamic global leader.”

Torlakson called on Congress to act swiftly to restore the program. “I urge Congress to step up, find a permanent path to citizenship, and protect these immigrants,” he said.

Trump ended the 2012 DACA program, which enables “Dreamers” – young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children – to live, study, and work in the U.S. More than 200,000 of these students live in California. He gave Congress six months to find a legislative solution.

Torlakson called the decision by Trump a “mean-spirited, political attack on students who are working hard to succeed.”

“I want to let all those students know that the American Dream remains safe and secure in California,” he said. “Our great state will continue supporting these terrific students and their families.”

The state has its own California Dream Act, which is unrelated to DACA, and allows undocumented students to receive state financial aid for college. The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) operates this program and previously reminded students that the Commission will take all available legal precautions to protect California Dream Act information, which is used solely to determine eligibility for state financial aid and is not shared with any other government agency.

Torlakson earlier in 2017 sent a letter to public school officials statewide and asked them to remind students and parents to file applications for financial aid. The letter is posted on the CDE Web site.

California School Boards Association (CSBA) President Susan Henry said:

“The President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is a disheartening development with serious implications for more than 200,000 Californians, most of them children and young adults. As school board members and county office of education trustees, this presents us with a special challenge – emphasizing and enforcing California’s commitment to educating all students.

“California has long been a beacon for people from across the country and around the world. Our state’s public schools pride themselves on welcoming and serving all students, regardless of race, socioeconomic background, gender identity, religion or citizenship. This is a civic and legal duty that both our education leaders and elected representatives are bound to uphold.

“As affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)), all students have a constitutional right of equal access to education regardless of their immigration status. Writing for the majority, Justice William J. Brennan argued that the children of undocumented immigrants “can affect neither their parents’ conduct nor their own status” and that “legislation directing the onus of a parent’s misconduct against his children does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.” Brennan also noted that “education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society” and that it “provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all.”

“That statement has even more truth today than when it was written three decades ago. In a world where the knowledge economy is ascendant, global competition is steadily increasing and technology impacts every aspect of life, the importance of a well-educated populace is greater than ever before. To deny a significant portion of children their right to education – whether through malice or neglect – is to compromise our civic and economic future.

“Our school district and county boards of education have policies in place to prevent discrimination or harassment of students on the basis of their immigration status and we have provided our members with resources, sample policies and legal guidance on this crucial issue. We ask that the legislative and executive branch leaders of America’s most diverse state be equally vigorous in supporting California students.”

California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald said:

“The United States is a country of immigrants and the blending of cultures is what enriches our nation. When California State PTA stands up and says we are advocating to improve the lives of all children, we mean ALL children. Children who are sitting next to your child in grade school, children that are working with your child on their science project and children who are on the middle-schoo student council. PTA has a long history of supporting the most vulnerable children and this is no exception. We will be joining National PTA in closely monitoring Congress and will be ready to provide support for a thoughtful, bipartisan plan to protect all of California’s children.

"The President’s decision to rescind DACA puts these children in jeopardy and we ask Congress to take action to correct this situation NOW. #DefendDACA.”

Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West (based in Oakland), said:

“The decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program is unconscionable, inhumane, and moves our country backwards. California is home to over 240,000 DACA recipients. More DACA recipients live in California than any other state in the nation. While the Trump administration may be turning its back on these young people, we will not. They are our students, our teachers, our business owners, our community leaders, our neighbors, our families, and ourselves.

“While I am disappointed and angered by this news, Ed Trust–West stands ready to fight to protect students enrolled in our schools, colleges, and universities – regardless of their immigration status or the statuses of their family members. I’m encouraged by the work of California state leaders to defend these students, as they did with the passage of the California DREAM Act in 2011. However, it is clear that our efforts to ensure all Californians have the ability to tap into the American Dream must be met with a greater sense of urgency and action.

“Despite (this) disheartening decision, Ed Trust–West will continue advocating for these students and their families and resisting racist and classist rationales undermining the right to learn, work, and serve one’s community. We call on Congress to immediately take up and pass the DREAM Act. It is up to all of us to make sure the story of America isn’t one that continues to be marked by the forceful removal of people from the only homes they have ever known.”

On September 12, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the law firm Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost (F3) released the following analysis:

On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), a program created by executive order under the Obama Administration. This fact sheet offers a brief overview of how the recent announcement may affect K-12 districts, and in particular, their student and employee populations. For more on the rights of undocumented students, families and staff, please see F3 and ACSA’s fact sheet regarding undocumented students and their families, available at

What is DACA? DACA protected certain undocumented immigrants from deportation who entered the country as minors, and made them eligible for work permits. Eligible individuals could apply for renewal of their DACA status every two years.

When will DACA end and how does that affect currently protected individuals? Unless the U.S. Congress passes legislation renewing DACA in some form, the program will end March 5, 2018. This means that previously protected undocumented immigrants will technically be eligible for deportation and ineligible for work permits. In the meantime, according to a fact sheet issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), the administration will continue to process currently pending DACA applications, but will consider no new applications received after September 5, 2017, and will not allow renewal of DACA status after October 5, 2017.

What are the consequences for students who were recipients of DACA? The ability of K-12 students who were recipients of DACA to attend school will not be affected by the end of DACA. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, students have the right to a public education regardless of their citizenship status. For these students, the threat of deportation will likely be the most serious consequence of the change in policy.

The most serious consequence for higher education students, in addition to the threat of deportation, will be the inability to receive work permits. In addition, higher education students may be ineligible for student loans because lenders are unlikely to lend to individuals who will not ultimately be able to obtain employment and repay the loans. The end of DACA will not impact California higher education students’ eligibility for financial aid; regardless of DACA status, undocumented students were – and will continue to be – ineligible for federal aid such as Pell grants, and eligible for state aid under California’s Dream Act.

What are the consequences for teachers and staff who were recipients of DACA? The most serious consequence for teachers, faculty and other employees is likely to be the inability to receive a work permit. Without work permits, K-12 employees previously protected by DACA will not be permitted to lawfully work in the United States.

Sources:  California Department of Education, California School Boards Association, California State PTA, Education Trust–West, Association of California School Administrators

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