CSBA President Susan Henry Issues Statement on Decision to End the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
SACRAMENTO, Calif., (September 6, 2017) – The President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is a disheartening development with serious implications for more than 200,000 Californians, most of them children and young adults. As school board members and county office of education trustees, this presents us with a special challenge – emphasizing and enforcing California’s commitment to educating all students.
California has long been a beacon for people from across the country and around the world. Our state’s public schools pride themselves on welcoming and serving all students, regardless of race, socioeconomic background, gender identity, religion or citizenship. This is a civic and legal duty that both our education leaders and elected representatives are bound to uphold.
As affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)), all students have a constitutional right of equal access to education regardless of their immigration status. Writing for the majority, Justice William J. Brennan argued that the children of undocumented immigrants “can affect neither their parents’ conduct nor their own status” and that “legislation directing the onus of a parent’s misconduct against his children does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.” Brennan also noted that “education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society” and that it “provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all.”
That statement has even more truth today than when it was written three decades ago. In a world where the knowledge economy is ascendant, global competition is steadily increasing and technology impacts every aspect of life, the importance of a well-educated populace is greater than ever before. To deny a significant portion of children their right to education – whether through malice or neglect – is to compromise our civic and economic future.
Our school district and county boards of education have policies in place to prevent discrimination or harassment of students on the basis of their immigration status and we have provided our members with resources, sample policies and legal guidance on this crucial issue. We ask that the legislative and executive branch leaders of America’s most diverse state be equally vigorous in supporting California students.