« Early Bilingualism Helps With Learning Languages Later in Life, Study Shows | Main | Early Education for Young Dual-Language Learners Weak in Many States, Report Finds »

Trump's Immigration Demands Could Pose Dilemma for Educators, Advocates

As the White House digs in on its immigration legislation, school leaders and immigration advocates across the country face a dilemma in their fight to protect hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation.

President Trump issued a list of demands—which includes a plan to expedite the removal of unaccompanied minor children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border—for immigration legislation to Capitol Hill over the weekend that represent a return to the hardline stance that he championed during last year's presidential campaign.

Trump said the list of proposals must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, and whose deportations were deferred by the Obama administration under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

But agreeing to any plan that would prioritize the removal of unaccompanied minors—many of whom have come to the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala in recent years—would create a conundrum for educators and immigration advocates: in order to save DACA recipients, they would have to place another group that has taken refuge in U.S. schools in peril.

In recent years, tens of thousands of undocumented children from Central America have fled violence in their home countries, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents or guardians. Upon their arrival here, many of the children have enrolled in U.S. schools, where they have been subject to discriminatory practices and unfair treatment.

DACA—which Trump effectively rescinded last month—provides temporary, two-year permits that protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants from deportation, including thousands of teachers and students working and learning in the nation's K-12 schools.

The rollback of DACA was part of an immigration platform Trump championed during the campaign that also called for deporting millions of undocumented immigrants and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump's new list of demands signals that he's backed out of a tentative deal struck with Democratic leaders just last month. Back then, Trump suggested he would be willing to extend legal protection to DREAMers first and "the wall will come later."

Congressional Democratic leaders have rejected Trump's demands, saying it shows the administration "can't be serious about compromise." A proposed bipartisan bill, the DREAM Act, would give permanent legal status, and a path to citizenship, for people who arrived in the United States illegally as children.

"If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so," read a joint statement from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Leaders from groups such as the American Federation of Teachers, National Immigration Law Center, and the UnidosUs, formerly the National Council of La Raza, also denounced the about-face from the Trump administration.

"Instead of solving problems like what will happen to the 800,000 young Americans covered by DACA—who are learning in, working in and completely woven into the country that is their home—they are held hostage as a way to make our broken immigration system even worse," American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wrote in a statement.

Related Stories

With Rollback of DACA, 'Dreamers in U.S. Schools Prepare for a Fight

Educators and Advocates Brace for Harsher Stance on Immigration Under Trump

All Eyes on Congress in Battle over 'Dreamers'

Unaccompanied Minors Blocked From Enrolling in School in 14 States

Unaccompanied Minors Face Uneven Experiences in U.S. Schools

In U.S. Schools, Undocumented Youth Strive to Adjust

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more