At the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, we believe deeply in the transformative power of public education. Furthermore, we stand for equitable access to the learning opportunities education provides for the common good. These beliefs lie at the core of our mission and we view those learning opportunities as essential to full participation in our civic life, economy and Democracy. And so today, we found President Trump’s decision to de facto end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) disturbingly disheartening. The president’s callous action puts educational opportunity at grave risk for tens of thousands of immigrant students and seeks to deny full participation in our society for hundreds of thousands of others. It is an unconscionable act that throws these young “dreamers” into a Kafkaesque labyrinth of absurdity and cruelty with no end in sight.
Created by presidential act in 2012, the promise of DACA beckoned nearly 800,000 young people without papers out of the shadows into the sunlight in pursuit of the American dream. These youngsters, “dreamers” they were called, cautiously signed up for this contract with their new society. As children they had grown up in our midst, attending our schools and churches and playing Little League and soccer. Research, our own and that of others, found that while in college they held jobs and displayed academic resilience and high levels of social and civic engagement. Despite a powerful undertow of constant financial concerns and housing insecurity, and in spite of discrimination and the near permanent fear that they or a loved one could be deported at any moment, they rallied forth with grit, American in all ways but on paper.
DACA recipients made good use of their fragile contract. They played by the rules – worked hard in school, got jobs; many made it to colleges, including UCLA. Others joined the military. In innumerable ways they endeavored to actively fulfill their social responsibilities. Their contributions could be seen on full display this past week when they joined as rescue workers in the aftermath of Houston’s devastating Hurricane Harvey. These young Americans-in-all ways-but-on-paper have kept their part of the social contract. As Americans, we need to keep ours. We implore Congress to do its part to act humanely and responsibly. We join with UC President Janet Napolitano in urging Congress to “immediately pass bipartisan legislation that would provide a permanent solution for these young people — one that charts a secure pathway toward citizenship and allows these Dreamers to continue to live, work and serve the only country most of them know as home. These youth need our protection and encouragement, and it is incumbent upon Congress to approve legislation that removes the uncertainty caused by President Trump’s misguided decision.”
We also join with and strongly support Chancellor Block’s statement that UCLA will stand in solidarity “with all of our students, especially our undocumented students, for whom the federal government’s action will be met with fear and uncertainty.”
We underscore the Chancellor’s reminder “that financial aid provided to undocumented AB540 students is unaffected by the federal government’s decision to end DACA.” And that DACA students should “be assured that UCLA will continue to provide you and student groups with information and campus support services, including legal and counseling services in the days and months ahead. UCLA will also continue to abide by the University of California Statement of Principles in Support of Undocumented Members of the UC Community, which pledges that each UC school will continue to comply with broad federal and state privacy rights and other rights that provide protection to all members of the UC Community.
The decision by the Trump administration to end DACA is both gratuitous and counterproductive. Its brutality strikes at the heart of our shared ideals of fairness and opportunity. It is a contravening of American common sense and decency to punish these youngsters for nothing more and nothing less than being in the country they love as a result of decisions made by others. We can and must do better. We at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies stand ready to do our part.
Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
UCLA Wasserman Dean &
Distinguished Professor of Education
Tyrone C. Howard
Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Director, UCLA Black Male Institute
Dr. Jody Z. Priselac
Associate Dean for Community Programs
Faculty, Teacher Education Program
Chair, Department of Education
Professor, Social Research Methodology
Chair, Department of Information Studies
Professor, Information Studies