The DACA Reversal and Education
How is the recent policy change affecting students and the education system?
A recent survey shows that there is no clear consensus on the impact of immigrants on education among educators. 44 percent of the respondent of the poll said the impact of immigrants on education was mixed, while an additional 38 percent said it was a good thing. While those results are vague, it should be noted that only 8 percent of those surveyed thought the impact of immigrants on education was bad.
The Trump administration recently ordered a shift away from DACA protections, claiming that it would create more economic opportunities for American citizens. While the impact on American workers can be debated, a study shows that the program definitely helped immigrant workers get ahead in life, increasing the rate of employment, the amount of wages received and the level of education.
Luz Garcini at Rice University has been studying the stress pressures the repeal of the act is having on DACA recipients. She found undocumented immigrants between the ages of 18 and 25 showed the most stress. Many in this group only have memories of being in America and are English speakers. “Literally, they almost perceive themselves as being U.S. born,” she said.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was an Obama administration policy that basically protected immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation and other legal actions against them. The thought behind it was that they had no control over the act of being brought here and shouldn’t be punished retroactively for the actions of their parents or caregivers.
While there may be little argument about the overly simplistic math logic behind eliminating illegal immigrants from the job pool resulting in more job opportunities for American citizens, you can debate the moral aspect of punishing people for actions that were taken by their parents or caregivers when they were children.
In education, one vocal proponent of DACA is Dr. Robert Avossa, superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools, the tenth largest school district in the country. Robert has an insider’s view of the struggles that child immigrants go through as he was an immigrant himself. Cultural changes and the inability to speak the language can put stress on a child’s psyche, and Robert thinks that the repeal of DACA unnecessarily adds to that pressure.
The DACA repeal is just one issue in a long list of policy mandates handed down by the current administration. Hopefully, those in power in Washington will take into account the effect these policy decisions have on our education system and the children who populate it.