In the wake of the Trump Administration’s announcement that an Obama-era immigration policy would be rescinded, the Brooklyn Center School District spoke out in support of the program that benefits immigrants who came to America as minors.
After the Tuesday, Sept. 5 announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions proclaimed that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be shuttered, potentially affecting 800,000 young people across the country who immigrated to the United States as children, Brooklyn Center Community Schools issued a statement on its website that voiced unconditional support for DACA and the young people previously covered by it.
“We are very concerned with the announcement that the DACA program will end now or in the near future,” read the statement. “We join with leaders across the country in asking Congress to act quickly to pass legislation to protect the DACA provisions so our students and families don’t have to live in fear … Our students, regardless of their immigration status, are valued members of our educational community, and our commitment to them, their families and to their education will not change.”
Introduced by the Obama Administration in 2012, DACA gave renewable, two-year deferred actions from deportation to illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, as well as eligibility for work permits. Brooklyn Center’s student population is largely composed of students of color and students from immigrant families, largely mirroring the demographics of the city of Brooklyn Center itself.
Despite Sessions and President Donald Trump’s support for ending DACA, the decision drew sweeping condemnations from Democrats and even some Republicans, as well as from citizen, religious and legal groups across the country. The rescinding of DACA was held off for six months while Congress was allowed time to think of a solution for the nearly one million immigrants eligible under DACA.
In an interview with the Sun Post, Brooklyn Center School District Supt. Mark Bonine and Brooklyn Center STEAM Middle and High School Principal Carly Jarva likewise offered their support for DACA and any students of theirs that may be affected by the announcement.
“We’ve had students who’ve come to Brooklyn Center High School who have gone to college, went on to work and been productive members of society, and have done everything that’s been asked of them,” said Bonine. “They don’t have any room to mess up one inch to the left, one inch to the right. So they’re doing everything that they’ve been asked to do.”
Bonine said that the district has been receiving messages from parents who were angry, scared and upset about DACA’s fate, and he vowed that the district would do everything in its power to commit to students’ safety and well-being.
“We get a lot of immigrants, and we’re just saying to our students and our parents and our staff who are immigrants: no matter what your immigration status is, we value you,” said Bonine. “You’re a valued member of our education community, you’re a valued member of Brooklyn Center, and we’re committed to them and their families and their education, and that won’t change.”
Likewise, Jarva said she registered surprise and sadness upon hearing the announcement.
“My initial reaction as an American … (was) really questioning and wondering about the message we’re truly trying to send about what our nation was founded on,” said Jarva. “As a principal of this building and a professional in our community school district, I think about what we need to do to make sure that we are keeping our students and their families safe.
“What we can control here within the school day and even outside of our school hours with our out-of-school programming is that we can create a safe space for (students) to be kids,” Jarva continued. “We always work from the standpoint of being very responsive to the needs of our students and being sensitive, to being able to tell when something is going on. We’re just being sensitive and observant and responsive to the needs of our kids through this.”
Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]