Trump administration moves in to end DACA, puts Dreamers’ program to sleep

Rio Popper, Copy Editor

President Donald Trump decided to roll back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) September 5.

Started with an Executive Order by president Barack Obama in 2012, DACA allows certain young, undocumented immigrants to lawfully stay in the United States, get jobs and obtain other benefits of legal status. In California, for example, DACA-approved immigrants (undocumented residents brought to the United States as children and often referred to as Dreamers) are allowed access to state driver’s licenses and to Medi-Cal. In addition, according to the American Center for Progress, the wages of DACA recipients are nearly 70 percent higher than those of other undocumented workers.

Trump’s repeal of DACA fulfills a promise he made while campaigning for the presidency last year.

“My personal opinion is that it is an extremely short-sighted and cruel decision,” Principal Sean Priest said. “But I know thatSequoia students, and teenagers in general, are extremely resilient. And here, at Sequoia, they have support from great staff and families. That gives me hope.”

Even more hopeful for Dreamers is the fact that, even after the September 5 order, immigrants can remain under DACA for the next two years if they renew their DACA by October 5. At Sequoia, DACA matters: the last estimates indicate that more than 10 percent of Sequoia students are undocumented. DACA makes college a real possibility for many of these students who otherwise could not afford it. Many scholarships require documentation of residency or citizenship; DACA gives students this documentation.

The rolling-back of DACA puts another roadblock in front of Dreamers both at Sequoia and worldwide, but many remain undaunted.

“We have all come too far to lose hope and turn back now,” said one Sequoia Dreamer who wished to remain anonymous. “Yes, this is another obstacle. But Dreamers have faced many obstacles, and overcome those obstacles. This is just another one.”

For this Dreamer, a big part of overcoming this is ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard. A protest in Downtown Redwood City September 6 helped make this dream—that of an open discussion—come true.

“If we understand other’s opinions, we are more able to compromise and understand [one another],” she said. “We won’t get anything done if we can’t understand [one another], so I try to both understand the perspective of people like [Trump] and also encourage other Dreamers to speak up.”

Regardless of Trump’s decision, in 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools must provide an education to undocumented students. Despite the repeal of DACA, then, Sequoia—along with all other schools in the nation—will still be open to all.

“Every student that resides within our district has a constitutional right to attend school every day,” Priest said. “They have a right to a high-quality education.”

Sequoia also has policies to protect students. Among other protections, Sequoia never asks for documentation of legal status. What records they do have in regards to students and families, they do not release unless legally compelled to do so. Moreover, according to a Resolution from the Board of Trustees of the Sequoia Union High School District, the district has made a commitment to “[welcome] and [support] all of its students, regardless of their immigrationstatus.”

Though she is safe at Sequoia, the above-quoted Dreamer still feels the impact on an emotional level.

“They say that this land is a land of hope and opportunity,” she said. “But it’s not. They are taking away my hope and my opportunities. How are they so ignorant as to not recognize that asagainst the very ideals of America?”

Following the repeal of DACA, students and other members of the community gathered in supprt of undocumented immigrants September 6 during a vigil in downtown Redwood City. Photo by Nicholas Abraham
Photo by Trevor Crowell