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San Diego Schools Double Down On Assurances For Students Following DACA Decision

San Diego immigrant and education leaders, as well as elected officials, join...

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: San Diego immigrant and education leaders, as well as elected officials, join for a press conference to speak out against the Trump administration's decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Sept. 5, 2017.

San Diego educators are reminding parents that all children have a Constitutional right to education and are safe from immigration enforcement on school grounds.

Young people who sought deportation relief through the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program had to wait until their 15th birthday to apply. Educators are speaking out on behalf of those teens who hadn’t yet applied or could see their DACA status expire following the Trump administration’s move to rescind the program.

“What kind of society would take young people who want to work hard and make a contribution to all of us and say, ‘We’re going to push you into the shadows?’” San Diego Unified Board President Richard Barrera said at a press conference Tuesday. “Who does that?”

Barrera said he worries about students without legal status returning to the shadows — dropping out of society and school — because they are uncertain about their futures in the United States. DACA offered recipients work permits, allowing many to build careers and become breadwinners for their families.

RELATED: Democratic California Lawmakers Vow To Help DACA Recipients

“(They) have made, already, a huge difference here in San Diego, in our state and across our nation,” San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said.

She sent a letter home shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on the decision reminding parents that all children have a Constitutional right to an education. It also assured them their children and their personal information are safe at school.

Marten’s letter reads, in part:

“To protect our students and their right to a productive learning environment, I met with both the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service (ICE) and the Border Patrol. Both agencies pledged NOT to conduct immigration enforcement activities at schools. Schools have been considered ‘sensitive areas,’ since 2011, by both ICE and the Border Patrol. As such, they do not carry out raids or other activities on school campuses.

The district is also committed to maintaining the confidentiality rights of students under the Family Educational Rights & Protection Act (FERPA). This law prohibits the release of student records without parental consent, including information that might indicate immigration status, unless mandated by law. Therefore, the district will not release your records.”

Marten said the district’s Family and Community Engagement office would connect impacted families with resources.

Several San Diego colleges and universities also issued statements supporting DACA and DACA recipients in the days leading up to and following the president’s decision. And about 100 South Bay educators are expected to meet at the Eastlake Country Club Wednesday night to discuss how they can motivate and protect immigrant students. Called the South County Teachers United Social Justice Corps, the group meets regularly to discuss social justice issues that impact their students.

RELATED: Several San Diego Leaders Denounce Trump’s Decision To End DACA

As of today, the government is no longer accepting new DACA applications but will process renewals through Oct. 5.

Several states have already filed a lawsuit challenging the president’s decision on DACA. His decision was in response to a challenge from conservative states that called the program, achieved through an executive order by President Barack Obama, unconstitutional.

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