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D.A.C.A: Destroy And Conflicts Arise

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On Tuesday, September 5, the Trump Administration announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be revoked if Congress fails to pass permanent immigration reform.  Initiated via an Obama Executive Order, DACA protects those brought to the United States as children, allowing them to go to school and work without fear of deportation.

Revoking DACA would mean that as of March 5, DREAMers (those here because of DACA) and their families could be separated from each other. Affected students would find their future education interrupted or cut short. Mr. Trump has called Congress to deal with the future of DREAMers arguing that immigration should be reformed as a congressional issue, not an executive one. The next six months are important for many Leyden families.

While most current students are too young to receive DACA benefits but many have family who do. ELL Department Chairperson Ms. Lisa Baran Janco stated that students are more fearful for family who do receive benefits than themselves.

District 212 Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak, recognizing the anxiety created by the announcement, recently sent an email to the Leyden students and staff. In it, he wrote the following:

“We know that this topic has created, and will continue to create, questions and unease for students across the country.  We would like to reassure you that this federal action will in NO way change any of the practices at our high schools.  We will continue to educate and care for ALL of our Leyden students.

“To ALL of our students: You belong here at Leyden. We want you here, and we are prepared to help you navigate how to continue on your educational journey.  You are here to earn an education so that you can better yourselves. When you are educated, informed and engaged, you are just what our nation needs.  Our commitment to being a diverse, inclusive and welcoming school district has not changed.”

In a follow up interview, he explained that the district doesn’t ask about the citizenship status of the students and that its schools educate anyone. He added that those who are most concerned “should talk to their counselors, talk to the administrators. [They] can point them towards resources.” He realizes that immigration status can be difficult to talk about and that it’s very personal, but that talking about it “puts a face on the issue so people understand how individuals are being affected.”

Dr. Polyak, responding to whether or not he believes Congress will find a solution, stated, “I have to hope that that’s the case.”

Current DREAMers should not be worried about being at risk for deportation as DACA benefits are valid for two years. Those who will lose benefits before March 5th, 2018 have until October 5th, 2017 to renew their applications. By March 5, Congress may have a plan for those who are undocumented and were protected by DACA. If someone is eligible for DACA benefits but never made an application, they are now ineligible to apply now as initial DACA requests are no longer being considered.

Also, DACA recipients still have legal options based on marital status, employment, and other grounds for citizenship. DACA recipients may seek legal advice about their options, and everyone interested in the issue should contact local representatives.

Our Illinois senators are Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. You can look up their information https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact. You can find your local representative at https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

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Keeping watch over student news at East Leyden High School
D.A.C.A: Destroy And Conflicts Arise