Long Beach Educators, Elected Officials Speak Out Against DACA Repeal and Call on Congress to Act

File photo.

 

Days after President Donald Trump said he would soon reveal the faith of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the administration’s decision to repeal the program that spares people who were brought to the country illegally as minors from deportation.

 

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation's security; and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump said in a statement today.

In Los Angeles County, which is home to nearly 100,000 of the 800,000 eligible DACA recipients nationwide—the largest concentration in the country, multiple elected officials spoke out against the administration’s decision.

 

“My heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of young people who, in the wake of today’s announcement, are wondering if they will be able to finish college, keep their dream jobs, or even continue living in the only country they have called home,” County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Long Beach, said in a statement. “DACA recipients are teachers, valedictorians, entrepreneurs, and military service members.”

 

Hahn said she has been able to witness a young DACA recipient who works at her office “go above and beyond” to help her constituents.

 

“I will do everything I can to support dreamers in LA County and I urge my former colleagues in Congress to step up and pass the Dream Act to restore these protections and calm the fears of hundreds of thousands of families across the country,” Hahn stated.

 


 

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also called on Congress to pass legislation that “protects the thousands of hardworking DACA beneficiaries that make our economy and communities stronger."

“Long Beach is and will always remain a city that welcomes and supports all people,” Garcia said in a statement. “We are a nation of immigrants, built by a love of country, family and community. The DACA program has allowed young people who came to our country as children to work, advance their education, and start small businesses. By ending the DACA program, we are denying young people the same opportunity that I received when I immigrated to the United States. We are denying talented young people the chance to contribute to our nation.”

 

Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach, noted bipartisan agreement in Congress for some kind of reform, stating that 13 Republicans in the House and four Republican senators have co-sponsored legislation to codify the protections of the DACA program.

 

“We need a comprehensive solution to fix our broken immigration system, but that work starts by granting some measure of certainty to families already here,” Lowenthal said in a statement today. “The President’s actions pull the rug out from under these hardworking young people who know no country but America.”

 

At Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), which school officials say enrolls nearly 1,000 undocumented students, President Jane Close Conoley said CSULB’s doors will remain open to all eligible undocumented students.

 

“The change in national policy is disheartening. When signing up for DACA our students believed the information they provided to the federal government would afford them an opportunity to work and learn free from fear of deportation and to become even more productive members of the community,” Conoley said in an email sent out to the campus community today. “This new policy breaches the trust that once existed between California’s younger generation and the United States government. This is not good for California. The loss of economic power and faith could take generations to rebuild.”

 

This announcement will not affect students currently eligible for AB540, which allows those who meet the criteria to receive certain state financial aid and pay in-state tuition at any UC, CSU or community college in the state. In addition, CSULB undocumented students can also access the Dreamers Success Center where they can be referred for counseling, food and housing support, as well as other services.

 

Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White said that if there is no new federal action the CSU will be required to end the employment of some of its DACA recipients as early as March 6, 2018.

 

“While our hope is that members of Congress will pass legislation restoring the protections afforded by DACA, if they fail to act timely, regretfully, there are no options to allow CSU to continue to employ you,” White said in a statement addressed to the entire CSU community. “I am troubled by this uncertainty and the potential loss of your contributions, creativity, energy and expertise, but I am optimistic that Congress will act to address the issue.”

 

White referred DACA students to this website, which will be updated as new information becomes available, to learn more about their rights and what steps the CSU is taking to help them complete their educational pursuits. White said CSU officials are available to assist faculty and staff and encouraged them to utilize the Employee Assistance programs and counseling centers on their respective campuses.

 

“Our mission to provide excellent educational opportunities to all Californians shall not waver,” White stated. “We will continue to vigorously pursue the CSU’s commitment to advance and extend knowledge, learning and culture; to provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally and professionally; and to prepare educated and responsible alumni who are ready and able to contribute to California’s culture and economy.”

 

Long Beach City College (LBCC) President Reagan Romali said school officials have begun to schedule special workshops and are offering crisis counseling for any student affected by Trump's decision.

 

“Long Beach City College is committed to supporting our students and maintaining a safe campus for all," Romali said in a statement. "We are dedicated to our mission of education and will continue to nurture an open campus and offer educational opportunities to all students, regardless of immigration status."

 

Romali also stated that the school will not release personally identifiable student information, including data related to immigration status, without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law.

 

Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Superintendent Chris Steinhauser reassured the community today that the president’s action will not change the way the district serves its students.

 

“We in the Long Beach Unified School District also will continue to do everything in our power to protect students regardless of nationality, immigration status, religion or other factors,” Steinhauser said, noting a resolution passed by the Board of Education earlier this year stating that it would protect students regardless of their immigration status.

 

While we await what actions Congress may take, state leaders have announced efforts to help immigrants through different pieces of legislation.

 

“California is being called to lead and be the moral compass for our country,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara said in a statement today. “I have introduced Senate Bill 573 so that DACA recipients who are in California universities can continue their studies and empower themselves.”

 

“Trump, whose companies continue to import workers from abroad, is a cynical manipulator,” Lara went on to say. “Republicans’ unrelenting assault on immigrants and especially Latinos is awakening a generation of young Americans to the threat to our country’s diversity and economic future, just as Proposition 187 did in California more than 20 years ago.”

 

Lara also called on congressional Republicans to join Democrats in passing the Dream Act with a path to citizenship for qualified undocumented immigrants.

 

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra also announced today that he is prepared to sue the administration over its decision to rescind DACA.

 

“President Trump has turned his back on hundreds of thousands of children and young Americans who came forward and put their trust in our government,” Becerra said in a statement. “But in terminating DACA, the Trump Administration has also violated the Constitution and federal law. This Administration has chosen to ignore what American voters have said they think is right. Nearly 80 percent of voters want to protect the legal status of Dreamers. Ending the program is devastating not just for recipients, but for our economy. California businesses would lose more than a billion dollars in turnover costs.”


 

In a tweet sent out today, Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez called for city council to create its own policy similar to SB 54, known as the “sanctuary state” bill, to protect Dreamers.

The bills that comprise the California Values Act (Senate Bills 54 and 31), if adopted by the state legislature, would prohibit municipalities from participating in deportations or assisting federal agencies in making a case for deportations and would prohibit cooperation in establishing religious or ethnic registries.

 

Editor's note: this story has been updated with a statement from LBCC President Reagan Romali.



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