Advocates Take Action for Dreamers and DACA

October 18, 2017

By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy 

On Sept. 5, the Trump Administration, via a statement delivered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that the White House would terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows almost 800,000 young people to live, work, and go to school in the United States without fear of deportation due to their lack of legal status. The rescission of this program will officially take place on March 5, 2018, which Sessions said “will enable the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an orderly change and fulfill a desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act should it so choose.” 

The National College Access Network and 11 of our members joined The Education Trust in a letter imploring the president not to end this program, which has allowed students across NCAN’s approximately 400 member organizations to continue their educational paths for the last five years. NCAN also signed on with over 320 organizations nationwide calling for the passage of the Dream Act of 2017.

In the meantime, there are events and resources of which DACA recipients and the college access and success professionals serving them should be aware.

For those looking for more resources, a coalition led by United We Dream and the National Education Association has shared these state-by-state fact sheets. Additionally, NEA is running a call line asking individuals to call their members of Congress to urge them to protect Dreamers; you can reach yours by dialing 1-855-764-1010. Also, the National Latino Education Network is posting updates to WeAreHeretoStay.org, which includes a mental health toolkit. And United We Dream shared "5 Things to know about Trump's announcement to end DACA." NCAN has collected several resources on our blog.

Throughout this fall, advocates for DACA recipients and Dreamers are keeping the urgency in Congress’ view through advocacy theme weeks. You can join in the social media campaign called #ProtectDreamers and check out the resources provided on the American Council on Education’s page for Higher Education Theme Week, in which NCAN is participating Oct. 16-20. K-12 education theme week is next, from Oct. 23-27, and another focused on veterans will be Nov. 6-10 (Veterans Day is Nov. 11).  

Beyond the theme weeks, NCAN suggests checking out NEA’s virtual postcard campaign. NEA will continue to collect postcards throughout the fall, but the first delivery day is Oct. 25. Lastly, mark your calendars for Nov. 9, which will be National Dreamer Day.  

Since Election Day, NCAN members have voiced their concerns that the DACA program would end and create a terrible blow to the students they serve.

"The Denver Scholarship Foundation’s mission is that all students attending Denver’s public schools earn a college degree or certificate," said Nathaniel Easley, secretary of NCAN’s Board of Directors and CEO of our member Denver Scholarship Foundation. "Since President Obama issued the DACA Executive Order in 2012, Denver Scholarship has invested more than $1.1 million in scholarship support for 247 DACA Scholars. Bucking incredible odds, 80 percent of our DACA Scholars are succeeding in college. In light of [the] unfortunate announcement that the Trump administration will end DACA, and given our unshakable commitment to Denver’s DACA students, we call on Congress to act immediately to pass the bipartisan Dream Act.”

Twenty-five percent of students served by the county-wide Southern California College Access Network have DACA status, said Alison De Lucca, executive director of that Los Angeles-based NCAN member. Organizations in the Lone Star State also lamented the development.

Sessions’ announcement "represents a disappointing setback for our collective march to increase college enrollment and graduation rates throughout the country," said Austin Buchan, CEO of NCAN member College Forward in Austin, TX. "In Texas alone, an estimated 250,000 hard-working students will face yet another set of challenges on their road to a postsecondary credential. We anticipate [this] decision will take a serious emotional toll on all those affected, as thousands of young Texan students once again confront an uncertain future. Our attention now turns to the six-month deadline imposed by the White House on Congress to pass legislation that ensures long-term success for America's 'Dreamers'." 

"Our first priority, and the priority we urge everyone in this region to adopt, is to extend the kind of support that our government evidently will not provide," said Faith Sandler, executive director of NCAN member The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. "We will ensure that our students and their families know that this decision does not change anything about our support of them. While our advocacy team navigates strategy for the national debate to unfold in the coming months, we will also fortify our work here, at home."

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