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NEA: Trump administration broke law when it ended DACA

Rescinding DACA will cause lasting and irreparable harm to students, public education

WASHINGTON - October 04, 2019 -

The National Education Association, which represents more than three million educators nationwide, argues in a legal brief it is filing today with the U.S. Supreme Court that the action the Trump administration took to unilaterally end DACA is unlawful, arbitrary and capricious, and therefore should be set aside. NEA says that the Trump administration failed to take into consideration the irreparable harm rescinding DACA would have on hundreds of thousands of DACA holders, their families, their students, and communities. The Court will hear oral arguments in the case on November 12. Read the full filing here.

“The decision by the Trump administration to end DACA not only broke the law but, more importantly, threatens to sweep away the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of our students, educators, and our neighbors,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The result will be disastrous for students and public education. Young children will suffer the abrupt departure of trusted teachers to the measurable detriment of educational outcomes, teacher shortages will worsen as thousands of DACA educators lose their status, and immigrant students will lose a lifeline to education mentors. Rescinding DACA will deprive young people of the protection and certainty they deserve.”

NEA spoke with educators as well as school superintendents from across the country to illustrate the real life impact rescinding DACA will have on hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and to show the massive and irreparable harm ending the program would have on public education. Those interviews were submitted as part of the legal filing with the Supreme Court. Below are excerpts from those interviews.

Areli Morales attended public schools in New York City where, she states, “I felt voiceless for many years…I remember wanting to be invisible…” DACA gave Morales “a new sense of confidence to move forward with [her] studies.” She was able to obtain work authorization, a Social Security number, and attend college. Morales graduated from Brooklyn College in 2018. She is currently working as a substitute teacher while pursuing her teaching license. If Morales can renew her DACA status, she declares, “I plan to use my experiences of being undocumented to be an empathic teacher…I hope to create a positive classroom environment that fosters acceptance, understanding, and empowerment to educate future generations of children, so they can strive to reach their greatest potential.” Having relied on DACA and devoted years to her goal of becoming a teacher, the idea that she would not be able to teach, have her own classroom, and prepare her own lesson plans is “devastating.”

Kateri Simpson teaches at a high school in Oakland, California. Simpson has seen first-hand how DACA has motivated students to fully engage in school and work toward graduation because higher education opportunities were now within reach. The students “all of a sudden…had agency and advocacy…They were able to work for themselves and that was such a powerful thing.” Her students could afford to stay in school and, with DACA work authorization, hold jobs to support themselves in college. As Simpson says, “the basic sense of human dignity to be able to work for what you want – I don’t think can be underestimated.”

Anayeli Marcos is in her last year of study for a dual master’s degree in social work and science at the University of Texas at Austin. Marcos aims to join a non-profit organization as a counselor or therapist

and use her Spanish-language skills to help underserved clients. In addition to her studies, Marcos works 20 hours per week, helping to provide for her three U.S. citizen siblings. When an agency error caused a temporary break in Marcos’s DACA status, she says it “turned my world upside down.” She had to withdraw from UT-Austin for a semester, move back in with her parents, and cease work until the mistake could be corrected. “It affects every aspect of my being. It not only affects me financially, it also affects my mental health.”

“DACA being rescinded takes away the hope from our students.” Superintendent Matt Utterback, of the North Clackamas School District in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, says “stress has an impact on academics and behavior,” and children’s ability to “concentrate, their ability to excel is being hampered because they are worried about their safety and future and that of their family members.” The same is true in the Highline School District in Washington State, according to Superintendent Susan Enfield. Maile Valu, a counselor in her district, reports that the “constant uncertainty that our DACA students and our students [and] families without legal status face has caused fear, stress, anxiety, [and] hopelessness.” Daniela Laureano Francisco, a family liaison in Highline reports, “DACA being rescinded takes away the hope from our students.” Superintendent Theron Schutte, of the Marshalltown Community School District in Iowa, has also seen first-hand the effects of increased immigration-related anxiety on children, including a “lack of ability to focus, more frequent absenteeism, and lesser achievement with coursework and on test performance.”

To read the rest of the collected testimony submitted with the legal brief to the Supreme Court, please click here.

NEA and its members have been staunch and vocal advocates of protecting DACAmented educators and aspiring educators with DACA status. Its members also have called out President Trump for playing politics with the lives of our students and members and has urged Congress to protect Dreamers by passing the Dream and Promise Act, which would benefit thousands of educators currently working in our nation’s public schools.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at


CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez