L.A. Unified leaders decry ‘wind down’ of DACA

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 5, 2017) - Expressing disappointment and dismay at the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, L.A. Unified leaders reiterated their support for students, employees and families who have prospered as “Dreamers.”

Superintendent Michelle King and members of the Board of Education urged Congress to swiftly enact permanent protections for the immigrants – most of them now teens and young adults – who were brought into the country as children. In the meantime, they said, L.A. Unified schools will remain as “safe zones,” meaning that immigration law enforcement agents looking to gather information or conduct enforcement actions will not be allowed on campus without a review by District officials.

“I am concerned by this decision and its long-term impacts on the students, families and employees of L.A. Unified,” Dr. King said. “These young immigrants have made valuable contributions to the community and the nation they consider their home, and they have earned the right to a permanent place in its history.

“We urge our lawmakers to act with urgency in resolving this issue and extending permanent protections to Dreamers,” she said. “The District will continue to embrace the values and principles of inclusion, and to provide a supportive teaching and learning environment that encourages achievement and success.”

Board President Dr. Ref Rodriguez said that DACA has provided opportunities for District students and teachers alike.

“Dreamers, whether they are students or teachers, have worked hard to contribute to this beautiful country and city. They should be celebrated, not turned away,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “We are committed to strong advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels, so that Congress will find the courage to reverse this decision.”

“My heart breaks for America and her children today,” said Board Vice President Mónica García, who represents East Los Angeles. “Dreamers have inspired the world and reconnected us to the power of the American Dream. Let's redirect our disappointment and anger toward solutions and civic action. We call on Congress to pass compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform because Dreamers help us form a more perfect union.”

“I am deeply troubled by the administration’s decision to phase out this vital program, which has benefitted countless children and families,” said Dr. George J. McKenna III, who represents West and South Los Angeles. “Our District remains committed to providing all students, no matter where they come from, with the world-class education they deserve."

“DACA has changed the lives of Dreamers and their families and allowed them to give back to their community,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson, who represents the West San Fernando Valley. “I am extremely dismayed by the anticipated loss of opportunities for these students who were brought to this country as children and who  stand to lose their dreams of becoming adults who would contribute greatly to the civic and economic vibrancy of our city, state, and nation.”

"Every child deserves an opportunity to dream without boundaries," said Board Member Nick Melvoin, whose district stretches from the Valley to the Westside. "We will not watch from the sidelines as this White House ignores the catastrophic implications of rescinding DACA, but instead redouble our efforts and call on Congress to defend the safety of all Dreamers, in our public schools and beyond."

“DACA has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth, opening doors for them to achieve their dreams and enriching our country in the process,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez, the East Valley representative. “As a teacher and the daughter of an immigrant, I know firsthand the ways in which immigrants, including DACA recipients, have made our country vibrant and strong. We must come together and fight to ensure that all young people, regardless of their immigration status, have the chance to realize their American Dream.”

“I am disheartened by the refusal of the administration to extend the protections of the DACA program,” said Dr. Richard Vladovic, who represents the South Bay and South Los Angeles. “It is unconscionable to punish children – who have lived their entire lives in this country and know no other way of life – for the actions of others.”

“Every person has the right to education in this country,” said Ben Holtzman, the Hamilton High School senior who is the student representative on the board. “We are a nation built by immigrants and a nation of hope and dreams. Dreamers deserve the same rights as people who were born in this country because that is the American creed.”

For more information about resources available to L.A. Unified students, employees and families, see achieve.lausd.net/weareone.

Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766