Riverside – Last week, in a show of unity, the Board of Education for the Riverside Unified School District issued a joint statement in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to end the program that protects young undocumented immigrants, known as “dreamers,” from being deported.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the president’s decision to dissolve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would directly impact approximately 1.9 million people nationwide and nearly 31,000 individuals in Riverside County who currently qualify for DACA protection.
The announcement regarding the program’s demise made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Tuesday caused an influx of uncertainty and fear of deportation among many Riverside families serviced by RUSD. School district officials spoke out in a show of support for those who may be affected by the Administration’s latest move.
“We believe every one of our kids has the right to a free, public and world-class education to provide opportunities to secure the American dream for themselves and their families,” said Brent Lee, RUSD Board of Education President. “I am concerned with the news out of Washington today, but I am hopeful that Congress will act to protect and support the thousands of Dreamers that make our schools and communities better.”
RUSD Board of Education Member Dr. Angelov Farooq said, “I am proud to stand with Dreamers and with a district so compassionately committed to empowering all of its students with opportunities to be successful. Dreamers represent the hope and values that embody the American spirit.” Tom Hunt, another board member, stated, “The public school system has always had a mission to provide the best education possible for the children it serves. Rescinding DACA is not a part of my way of thinking, and nor should it be by our governance team.”
Board member Kathy Allavie added, “Our students work hard each and every day for the many opportunities an education provides. I am hopeful that we will find a home for these scholars in our district.” Board member Patricia Lock-Dawson’s first thoughts were about the children, saying “My thoughts go out to our families, many of whom must be so scared and confused right now. I just want them to know that RUSD will provide as much information and support as we possibly can.”
RUSD Superintendent Dr. David Hansen reiterated that the district is, and will continue to be, a “Safe Learning Zone” for students. In February, RUSD adopted a resolution that established a safe learning zone for all students, families, and staff, and the district stands by the language in that resolution. RUSD will not use school resources to detect or assist in the apprehension of individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status, nor will they release any information about a student or family's immigration status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless compelled to do so by a court order. The District also prohibits school employees, contractors and volunteers from inquiring about a student's immigration status and from requiring students or parents to produce documents pertaining to that status.
“We welcome all students here in RUSD. This is a place where young people come to learn, to feel safe, to get fed a few hot meals, and to build a strong foundation for a good life in America. We will continue our focused efforts to provide a worry-free learning zone for each and every student who steps foot into an RUSD facility,” Hansen said.