Protecting Our Dreamers

Please consider taking half an hour today or over the long weekend to reach out to people in your circle with tools for supporting our Dreamers and their families in the face of Trump's potential actions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the next couple of weeks. Our president has strongly insinuated that he is about to move on DACA in some way, and his recent pardoning of Joe Arpaio could be a foreboding sign of how he will act. Now is time for us to protect our friends and community members who are most at risk. 

For those in need of background: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy founded by the Obama administration in 2012. DACA allows some undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors (called "Dreamers"), to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. Through DACA, about 800,000 immigrants who came to the US as children now study and work in our communities and are our neighbors, our children's schoolmates, and, for those of us who teach, our students. 



According to many media outlets, Trump is likely to announce an end protections for Dreamers soon -- possibly as soon as next week. The decision could lead to thousands of Dreamers being deported or deemed "illegal" -- creating a condition that Vivek Wadhwa has referred to as a potential humanitarian crisis. Activists are working to mitigate the potential harm, but no one is really certain what will happen next.

Trump could opt for either a quick or slow phaseout of DACA’s protections from detention and deportation. A presidential memo ending DACA could spare current Dreamers again—until their two-year protections expire and they become eligible to be detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The last Dreamers would then lose their protections about two years from now. Or Trump could end the program immediately and make all Dreamers subject to deportation.

What EVERYONE needs to do right now (Dreamers and non-Dreamers) is to PLAN and ACT. If you are at risk, you must make a safety plan. If you are not, please take action to support other by distributing information, supporting English language learners, mobilizing your network with placed-based resources, etc

For instance, last semester, I found that students in my classes who were non-Dreamers were just as hungry for this information as were my Dreamers. Then I begin to realize that people in my community, on my Facebook, and in my networks wanted this information as well. Many people we know desperately want to actively support our community members who are at risk when it comes to changes in DACA, but they don't know how.

Here's a letter I sent out to my class this morning, pulled from my own academic institution's FAQs on DACA and from advocacy groups I know and trust. Feel free to use it as the basis to draft something similar and send tools for support out to folks in your own networks. At a bare minimum, familiarize yourself with this information from MALDEF. Or put in a little extra effort: Make copies of the immigrant detention card on this page, and share with Dreamers who might not know about it; print out rights information on that page in multiple languages and share with immigrants who are English language learners; show folks in your networks how to send word out via text or social media apps when they see or hear about ICE activity in their community (for instance, they can call United We Dream’s hotline to report a raid at 1-844-363-1423 and/or send text messages to 877877).

This is one of those moments in history when we won't want to be part of the group that stood by idly while our friends' and neighbors' lives were disrupted. Reach out to your people and let's hang on to our friends and neighbors. 

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Laurie Jones Neighbors is an independent consultant and educator who specializes in developing, implementing, and assessing programs and educational experiences in support of equitable political representation and local, regional, and national decision making by low-income communities and communities of color.