Rescinding DACA would widen inequality in U.S. education


Jessie Chang | Daily Trojan

As ambiguity around the status  of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program persists, nearly 800,000 young people in this country — at least 40 of whom attend USC, according to previous Daily Trojan reporting — are living in a state of uncertainty. And combined with the right wing’s dismal stance on public funding for education, the president’s threats against DACA mark a move to limit higher education access for people born into undocumented families. After all, to take away young people’s chances to live in America is to take away their chances to go to American colleges and enrich these schools with diversity.

USC has a significant population of international students and a body of undocumented students, whom the University declared support for in a memo released earlier this month. The University addresses their unique needs with a number of resources., like waivers for DACA renewal fees for students. The Gould School of Law has a clinic that provides legal counsel and help filling out and submitting documents. The University also made a pledge last year to protect undocumented students’ identities from unwarranted government searches and inquiries. USC may not be a sanctuary campus by name, but the University nonetheless protects its undocumented students.

That being said, the issue of educational equity for undocumented students is not one that can be reliably expunged on an individual, school-by-school basis. This inequality — in terms of the hoops undocumented students must jump through and the anxiety they face about their right to go to school — cannot be removed on a national level no matter how many resources USC provides.

The federal government must recognize how severely its policies and the rhetoric from its leaders have created institutionalized inequality in higher education, and ultimately make amends for this. Until this unfolds on a national level, equal education will continue to evade DREAMers at USC and across the country.

Education and equal opportunity are fundamental cornerstones of American democracy, which lawmakers are trying to use fine print and narrow, restrictive definitions of citizenship to deny thousands of young people from partaking in. The abilities of young undocumented people to pursue careers, support their families and pursue higher education may be up in the air throughout President Donald Trump’s presidency and Republicans’ hold on Congress.

For these young undocumented people, anxiety about their futures in this country and its schools can certainly take its toll. On top of the mental health struggles that may inherently go hand-in-hand with concerns about one’s status in this country, legal fees for DACA renewal and hours spent at courts and clinics are just additional barriers to higher education for DREAMERs. Without DACA, American education is inherently unequal.

While Trump seemed to soften his stance on DACA last week, making a tentative deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would grant DACA recipients some conditional protection, his rhetoric and reassurance to his base shows he is firm in opposing immigration reform. A compromise with Pelosi and Schumer today does not negate a future of uncertainty for young undocumented people on college campuses.

  • BoredHousewife

    The author says “Education and equal opportunity are fundamental cornerstones of American democracy, which lawmakers are trying to use fine print and narrow, restrictive definitions of citizenship to deny thousands of young people from partaking in.”

    Fine print and narrow definitions of citizenship? Either you are here legally or you are not. The print is not fine at all.

  • Chi Lau

    No it wouldn’t since it is not the job of the United States to educate foreign nationals who were illegally smuggled in. Let Mexico & Company educate their own kids.

  • Lance

    Nice reporting Sara. Sadly,Trump’s contentious issue is yet one more thing that makes being an international student away from home difficult, on top of our already complex culture and language. Welcoming and assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation.

    Something that might help anyone coming to the US is the award-winning worldwide book/ebook “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” Used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it identifies how “foreigners” have become successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society, including students.

    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.

    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.

    Good luck to all at USC or wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who have the loudest misguided voice!