DACA: A Reflective Circle

 

To the Teacher
 

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out a program called DACA, “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

DACA is an Obama-era program that allows some young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to avoid deportation. The Trump administration urged Congress to come up with a replacement for DACA, or else in six months, these immigrants will be at risk of being deported. During his run for the presidency, then-candidate Trump often talked about “getting tough on immigration,” so his DACA announcement didn’t come as a real surprise to anyone.  

DACA came into being in June 2012, when President Obama, frustrated with Congress's failure to pass more substantive immigration reform, a measure called the Dream Act, took matters into his own hands. (The young people who have been protected by DACA are often called Dreamers because many would have been eligible to become U.S. residents under the Dream Act.)

Obama created the DACA program using an executive order. DACA offered recipients renewable protection from deportation every two years and allowed them to work legally in the U.S. To qualify, applicants had to have entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and had to be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. They had to be in school or possess a high school diploma.  They had to have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007 and not have a criminal record.

Around 800,000 young people are currently being shielded from deportation by the program.  If DACA is rescinded, young people and families across the country will be affected in negative ways.  As a result, young people in many classrooms across the country will have strong feelings about the Trump administration’s announcement.

This activity uses a circle format - it includes an "opening ceremony" and a series of go-rounds, using the prompts below and a "talking piece," if that is your classroom practice. Circles can be a way for people to process some of their thoughts and feelings among peers who may be experiencing similar thoughts and feelings; it encourages partipants to listen, bear witness, and create a supportive space. See our guidelines for restorative circles. 

 



Opening Ceremony
 

Read the following poem by Langston Hughes out loud:
 

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world. 
 

In a go-round, invite students to share what comes to mind as they hear this poem.

Draw on what students share, and refer to the news that the Trump administration has announced a plan to end DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) in six months. Tell students that the young people who are protected by DACA are often known as Dreamers. This is a reference to the "Dream Act," a more comprehensive immigration reform plan that would have protected many young immigrants. (The Dream Act is short for the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.”)
 

Go round:

Invite students to share their thoughts and feelings about the Trump administration decision.  How do they relate to Langston’s Hughes poem?
 

Go round:

Invite students to share any reflections, connections or additions on the previous go round.  If needed, allow several rounds for this second prompt to allow students to continue sharing their thoughts and feelings, which may help provide support for any students who are especially upset by the news.

When it is your turn to speak, share your own thoughts and feelings, acknowledge the feelings that have been shared, and perhaps summarize some of what students are talking about. 
 

Go round:

Going back to the poem at the start of this circle, invite students to share how they might support each other during this challenging time. Can they be a buffer for each other from the too-rough fingers of the world?  Can they stand by each other to provide support?  What are some of the needs people have in the circle today?

 


 

Closing

Depending on how today’s circle went, consider one of the following two closings.
 

 1: Connections
 

Explain that “connections” is a time to offer reflections or feelings about the work we’ve done together today. It’s an opportunity to share briefly what’s on your mind or in your heart (if you feel so moved).

“Connections” comes from a Quaker tradition. People speak if they feel moved to speak.  It’s not a discussion or go-round.  If there is silence, that’s fine.  Enjoy the silence as a time for reflection.

Set your timer for three or four minutes and let the reflections unfold. When the timer goes off, it’s over. There’s no need for follow-up discussion.

 

2: Activism
 

Show this website, and scroll through some of the actions that students across the country have organized to protest the Trump administration’s DACA decision.

In a go-round, invite students’ thoughts and feelings.