NEA EdJustice Features

NEA challenges the end of DACA in the courts

The actions of the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program threatens to irreparably harm students, educators and school systems across the nation. Given the severity of the impact that revocation of DACA, a program enacted by the Obama Administration to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children, poses, NEA has filed amicus briefs in two lawsuits urging the courts to strike down the DACA revocation.

NEA-led coalition efforts in California and New York to file amicus briefs challenging the revocation of DACA in two lawsuits: University of California vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and New York vs. Trump. It is an unusual step for the NEA to file amicus briefs in cases pending in U.S. District Courts, but with the March 5 Trump Administration deadline looming, it was not an option to wait for the cases to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The number of educators and students impacted by the uncertainty created by the Trump Administration is significant. Estimates put the number of educators impacted by the revocation of DACA at 9,000, many of whom possess vital Spanish language skills which are in high demand in the classroom. Furthermore, DACA eligible students are estimated at 250,000, with hundreds of thousands more who have an undocumented parent or family member.

NEA’s amicus briefs contain the voices of dozens of educators from across the country who provided a view of why DACA is important and of the impact the threat of revocation of DACA has had from the frontlines of education.

  • K.R. (identified by initials to protect her identity), a DACA recipient and Texas educator teaches special education to hearing impaired pre-K children. A course she took on deaf education was her “light at the end of the tunnel” and she knew she wanted to dedicate her life to teaching children with limited communication abilities. Due to a shortage of teachers who can teach hearing impaired students, ending DACA will very likely leave her students without a specialized teacher.
  • Cindi Marten, the Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, noted anxiety among students transcends immigration status, “Kids are worried about what’s going to happen to them. People think this is just . . . an immigration issue. That’s not what we’re seeing. Teachers and principals are saying that kids are scared for their friends. They’re also affected.”
  • Angelica Reyes, a DACA recipient and an A.P. History teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District where she was once a student says, that thanks to DACA “I could finally serve my community. And I could be an educator. DACA gave me a clear path to obtain the career I had been working towards.”
  • Kateri Simpson, a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District, has seen first-hand how DACA has motivated students to fully engage in school and work toward graduation because postgraduate opportunities like college were now within reach. Simpson says, “The basic sense of human dignity to be able to work for what you want—I don’t think can be underestimated.”

Grassroots organizing continues around the country to pressure Congress to act as Dreamers, educators and families anxiously await a court decision.

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