On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being rescinded.”
I was pretty sure that I knew what “rescinded” meant, but I double checked anyway: “to revoke, cancel or repeal.” Okay, I was right. Coming from a representative of the Trump administration, I assumed that rescinding DACA was part of the administration’s policy. Yet after Trump met with Democrats on the issue, the opposite seemed to be true. In fact, it looks like the Attorney General must have gone rogue in his attempt to terminate a program that is so clearly supported by the president as indicated by his tweets of Sept. 14:
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!..... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
...They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own - brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
Politics and certain policies can be confusing to a novice like me so I asked Pedro Noguera, who is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, to help me figure out the meaning of the latest data from DACA.
Robert: Pedro, why is it that issues related to immigration are always controversial and seemingly so hard to resolve despite being prominently discussed as a priority during each election season?
Pedro: Fears of immigrants, often called xenophobia, are common in many countries. This is even true in the US despite the fact that we have historically been a nation of immigrants. Politicians use fear and resentment of immigrants to scapegoat, arguing that they’re taking “our jobs”, bringing crime to “our communities”, or destroying “our way of life”.
Robert: Are immigrants a net positive or negative for the United States?
Pedro: The evidence shows that immigration has always been good for the US. Communities that attract immigrants tend to have a more dynamic and productive economy. This is because immigrants generally bring talent, a strong work ethic, and innovation to the host country. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need a reasonable immigration policy to control the flow of immigrants, but the fact is that immigrants often revitalize communities that are depressed.
Robert: How would closed borders affect education and our country’s intellectual future?
Pedro: We live in a globalized world, where traditional borders between nations are increasingly irrelevant to the flow of ideas, goods and culture. It is unreasonable to expect that we could wall ourselves off. Nor would it be wise to do so since we benefit from our connections with the world. Immigrant students are among the very best students at many US universities. In fact, it’s increasingly uncommon to find US-born students in fields like computer science, math, physics and engineering at the graduate level. Many fields are disproportionately comprised of immigrants and without them the US economy would be in trouble.
Robert: Why has the University of California decided to sue the Trump administration for ending DACA?
Pedro: UC President Janet Napolitano drafted the DACA order when she was the head of Homeland Security. She’s also the former governor of Arizona, a state heavily impacted by immigration. She gets it. Immigration is good for the university, and defending undocumented students is essential to their success.
Robert: Why would President Trump and his administration present two opposing views of DACA in such a short period of time?
Pedro: Who can explain anything Trump does or says.
Robert: Right. How can regular people like me support DACA recipients and their quest to continue pursuing their American dreams?
Pedro: Spread the word to others about why it's a fair and just policy. The only way to counter fear and ignorance is through education.
Robert: Thank you, Pedro. Now, this makes sense!
Pedro A. Noguera is a critically acclaimed scholar, a dynamic speaker and a committed activist. His work focuses on a broad range of issues related to education, social justice and public policy. He is the author of several best-selling books and is a highly sought-after public speaker and international consultant. Pick-up his books that include: Excellence in Equity and The Trouble with Black Boys and Other Reflection on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education. He is a member of the Board of Scholars for Facing History and Ourselves.