By Annika McDonald and Andrew Anderson
On Sept. 5, 2017, days before the school year began, the Trump administration terminated the DACA program. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a protection program for young immigrant children who came into the United States with the help of their parents or family members. On June 15, 2012, President Obama put the program into effect in the U.S. through an executive order. With this program, undocumented immigrant children were able to go to school and get an education.
At Harvest, of 22 students anonymously surveyed, three indicated that they were affected by the DACA program. One person said, “A relative of mine has been affected by the termination of the DACA program and it really sucks. If congress doesn’t do anything about it, it’ll really suck if he has to go back to a country that he can’t remember how it is, or what it looks like.” Students at Harvest may face separation from family members due to the end of this program.
Trump himself has expressed mixed feelings about the program. In a news conference at the White House in February, Trump said, “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids. In many cases, not in all cases. And some of the cases, having DACA and they’re gang members and they are drug dealers, too.”
On September 28, 2017 a four-day nationwide operation targeted major sanctuary cities, arresting four-hundred and ninety-eight people from forty-two different countries. In New York, on September 12, 2017 schools chancellor Carmen Fariña sent a letter home to families stating that schools should remain safe and accepting toward kids from immigrant backgrounds.
A Harvest student surveyed said, “Yes, my family has been affected by it, because they came illegally,” while another responded, “ I don’t know for sure, but my dad being an immigrant was probably affected by DACA.” It seems that some students are not sure about how the change in policy will affect them or their families. This creates a climate of fear and uncertainty.
Teens who weren’t affected still expressed opinions on how they felt about DACA being terminated. One person, in a strongly worded response, said “It’s not really affecting me or my family in anyway but I think that this is truly absurd. Trump is a corrupted a****** and he is dragging America into hell.”
Another person wrote, “One thing I feel about the termination of DACA, is that it’s very upsetting for children to get an education like us American children. Important issues like this one shouldn’t be turned down by the U.S. government, which Trump currently runs.” Another respondent said “None of my immediate family has been affected by the removal of DACA. However I know that some people’s lives have been affected very badly because of this.”
Even those students who are not directly impacted appear to express concern about those who are. At Harvest, the termination of DACA affects the teens who come from immigrant backgrounds and those who do not.