How does the American Dream end? How do we tell our students that the fertile soil that was the United States is now a barren land that refuses to flourish?
As African-American and Latinx educators, we are the dream keepers. As 2017 Surge Fellows, we are The Guardians, called to protect the promise of our country. Who holds the promise, if not our children?
Over the past week, the whispers have been getting louder: The end of the DACA program may be imminent. We come together in response to this possibility and ask that educators across the country join us in voicing their support for the DACA program.
The economic evidence is compelling. Think tanks across the political spectrum have produced research that points to a loss of approximately $460.3 billion to our Gross Domestic Product should the DACA program be discontinued.
The presence of DACA recipients across our economy as business owners, employees at Fortune 500 companies, and taxpayers is the best example of the power and promise of inclusion that our country can offer.
The data shows that DACA recipients have earned bachelor’s degrees at a rate higher than the national average and are propelling growth of the record-high number of college undergraduates in the United States.
DACA recipients have leveraged their status, along with their gifts, talents and tenacity, to give our country a boost as we continue to compete with the world and lead with innovation.
But make no mistake — these young people have not been given a free pass or an unfair advantage through their attainment of DACA status. Ask David, a sophomore at Wooster College, or Joselin, a recent college graduate, how easy it has been for them.
They will tell you about the countless hours invested in their studies, the search for scholarships that required an investment of time equal to at least a part-time job, and the resourcefulness necessary to access and acquire the time and people needed to support them on their journey.
When you speak to them, what you will hear is gratitude. You will see what it means to fulfill potential. You will see that they are not here to take away your opportunities or replace you but that they are here to make you better.
As Black and Brown educators committed to changing the game in education, we view DACA as not solely a Latinx issue, just as we view police shootings of unarmed Black men as not solely a Black issue. We commit to seeing these issues through one community lens and join our voices.
Somos una communidad.
Together, we assert our claim that ending the DACA program amounts to the United States becoming the land of missed opportunity. To our students and colleagues — we’ve got you. To our legislators and government officials — we urge you to support the continuation and expansion of the DACA program.
We call on you to tend our soil so that we may all reap a bountiful harvest.
Nina D. Sánchez has dedicated her career to ensuring that first-generation and underrepresented students have the support they need to get to and through college. She currently serves as the regional lead of diversity, equity and inclusiveness with Teach For America.
D. Nigel Green, a born-and-bred representative and proud ambassador of Chicago’s South Side, has found no greater professional joy than in the work of education. He is the assistant principal of Muchin College Prep, the fifth-ranked school in the city of Chicago.
Halleemah Nash is the executive director of iMentor Chicago, an organization that builds rigorous, high-impact mentoring relationships that ensure more students from low-income communities succeed in college.