State and Local Education Officials Urge DACA Students to Stay In School

By City News Service

Local and statewide education officials Tuesday denounced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and sought to reassure beneficiaries of the program that they are still welcome on school and university campuses.

“The university’s enrollment and tuition politics are not based on DACA status so enrollment, tuition and financial aid for students is not impacted by the ending of the program,” said Timothy White, chancellor of the Long Beach-based California State University system. “Additionally, state funding under the California Dream Act is not based on DACA status and will not change. Our mission to provide excellent educational opportunities to all Californians shall not waver,” White said.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue the CSU’s commitment to advance and extend knowledge, learning and culture; to provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally and professionally; and to prepare educated and responsible alumni who are ready and able to contribute to California’s culture and economy.”

University of California President Janet Napolitano said the decision by President Donald Trump to end the program in six months — barring any action from Congress — was “deeply” troubling.

“This backward-thinking, far-reaching move threatens to separate families and derail the futures of some of this country’s brightest young minds, thousands of whom currently attend or have graduated from the University of California,” Napolitano said.

She said she was directing her advisory committee on “undocumented students” to determine “how to best support and protect University of California students who rely on DACA over the next six months and beyond.” She said the system will continue offering services to DACA recipients, including legal services.

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials stressed that school campuses will continue to be “safe zones,” meaning federal immigration agents will not be permitted on campuses “without a review by district officials.”

“These young immigrants have made valuable contributions to the community and the nation they consider their home, and they have earned the right to a permanent place in its history,” LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King said.

LAUSD Board of Education President Ref Rodriguez said DREAMers, be they teachers or students, “have worked hard to contribute to this beautiful country and city.”

“They should be celebrated, not turned away,” he said. “We are committed to strong advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels, so that Congress will find the courage to reverse this decision.”

The Montebello Unified School District, the second largest in Los Angeles County, also repudiated the decision to end DACA, reiterating in a statement Tuesday that the school district is committed to assisting students and their families.

“The Board of Education of the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) strongly opposes President Trump’s decision today to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” they said.

“The time, energy, and money that has been invested into these students would be a huge economic loss in terms of resources lost and in contributions they could be making to our communities,” said MUSD, adding that “the state will suffer a major setback” in meeting demands “for a more educated workforce to compete in a world economy.”

Joining the outcry against the White House’s announcement, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said ending DACA is a “heartless and senseless decision.”

“Those who are affected by this decision were brought to this country as children and are pursuing an education and making contributions to their community,” Oakley said. “Some have served in the Armed Forces defending this country. In California, we don’t put dreams — or DREAMers — on hold.

“The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn.”

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September 7, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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