Just hours after the Trump White House announced on Tuesday that it would move to rescind protections for young undocumented immigrants, New York City politicians, religious leaders and educators filled City Hall to pledge support for “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. as children.
With the news still fresh, there were few answers as to the immediate effects the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would have on the more than 30,000 New York City residents already in the program. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña reassured parents and students that schools are open to all regardless of immigration status — a particularly timely message with school beginning Thursday for more than a million children.
“My message today is very clear,” Fariña said. “Every student, parent and educator is welcome and safe in our schools. We will do everything we can to defend you in our schools.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced DACA, which provides work authorization and protection from deportation, will expire in March, and urged Congress to pass legislation in its place. The decision fulfills a campaign promise made by President Donald Trump and, while anticipated, was still met with outrage in New York City. Local and state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have promised to mount a legal challenge.
Among those who denounced the move at Tuesday’s press conference were United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
“We are there with you. You will be protected,” Mulgrew said in a message to students and teachers.
In January, after Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries, the school system sent letters to families to reassure them that school officials would not ask about immigration status or keep records regarding their status. In March, city officials reiterated that immigration officials would not be allowed in schools without the proper legal authorization.
Students are not the only ones impacted by the phase-out of DACA. Teach for America has actively recruited almost 200 “DACA-mented” teachers to its corps. New York State officials in 2016 authorized DACA recipients to earn certain teacher certifications and professional licenses. It is unclear how those teachers will be impacted.
“Dreamers are your children’s teachers. Your neighbors, engineers, designers,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Chances are you have interacted with them at work, church or school. These are real people.”