An estimated 700,000 undocumented students can now apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation – under President Obama’s executive order, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), issued back in June. Under this action, children of undocumented residents, if they meet certain criteria and do not present a risk to national security or public safety, can request relief from deportation proceedings, and apply for work authorization for a renewable period of two years.
With the school year now underway, educators have the opportunity to help students learn about eligibility requirements and help identify groups that can provide assistance with the application process.
United We Dream, with assistance from the National Education Association (NEA), recently released a brief, easy-to-read guide for teachers to help eligible students. The guide defines DACA, provides general information about ways teachers can help undocumented students and the specific steps they can take in assisting students through the deportation deferment application process.
The DREAM Act, which creates a pathway to citizenship for qualified children of undocumented residents, has been repeatedly blocked by GOP lawmakers in both houses of Congress. So for hundreds of thousands of “DREAMers,” the importance of DACA cannot be overstated.
The National Education Association believes DACA makes the nation’s immigration policy more fair, more efficient, and more just – specifically for certain young people who are low enforcement priorities. While it is not a permanent fix, until Congress passes the DREAM Act, DACA will lift the cloud of deportation from the lives of many young people across the nation.
NEA has taken a prominent role in helping students who qualify to apply for deferment, partnering with legal and activist groups like United We Dream to provide the necessary assistance to these students, their families and communities.
On the campus of Northern Virginia Community College recently, trained NEA and United We Dream volunteers and a group of volunteer attorneys held a four-hour clinic to help students with the application process.
“NEA members work with these students every day – among them are class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youth committed to bettering their communities,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We celebrate our students’ triumphs and provide support to them to overcome challenges. Adjusting the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation practices will allow so many talented young Americans to live with the peace of mind that they will be able to fulfill their dreams, thus enriching the nation culturally and economically.”