Discussing DACA

In this activity, students watch a video about responses to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back this Obama–era program, which has allowed young undocumented  immigrants to stay in the country. Students then read and discuss a variety of opinions about the decision.  


Ask students what they know about the DACA program and why it is currently in the news. 
Tell students that on September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out a program called DACA, "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."  Elicit and explain some or all of the information below.  
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  If DACA is rescinded, young people and families across the country will be affected in negative ways. 

Video Clip and Discussion

Play the following NY Times "Immigration Debate" video clip all the way through:
Invite students to share their thoughts and feelings about the clip.  Next, consider some or all of the following questions to facilitate a group discussion about the video:

  • Was there anything in particular that stood out to you about the clip, or that especially resonated with you?
  • Was there a "voice" or "story" that struck you?  Why?
  • Were you able to relate to any of the young people in the video?  How?
  • Did you notice any similarities or differences between the stories?

Consider playing the video clip a second time, this time asking students to keep in mind the following questions as they watch the video (if they have not already been addressed in the earlier discussion):

  • What is the impact of DACA on these young people?
  • How do these young people talk about their family?
  • How do these young people identify themselves?
  • Why do you think they consider the U.S. home?


Small Group Discussions:  Various Responses

Divide your class into small groups of four or five.  Distribute these pdf  handouts (also included at the end of this lesson). Invite students to read one of the five responses to President Trump's DACA decision, then discuss it in their small groups according to the two questions below. 
After about ten minutes, bring the groups back together and invite them to share out what was discussed in their small groups. 
Finally, ask students if there are any questions they have about the DACA issue. Chart questions students may have and develop a homework assignment or future lesson around these questions. 

Closing: 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.



Handouts PDF

Handout, Washington Post 1 

Information and quotes excerpted from the Washington Post.
Advocates of immigration restrictions are applauding the demise of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program [DACA] and say any effort to save it must be tied to new enforcement measures.
Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian says he backs keeping DACA if it comes with a requirement that employers electronically verify the immigration status of anyone they hire. He also says DACA recipients must be prohibited from getting legal status for their families and that the program can't result in an increase in the overall number of green cards.
Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform calls DACA an "unconstitutional abuse of executive authority" and says Congress now has a chance to keep it in place as part of a broader package that may include the border wall, more restrictions on legal immigration and stepped–up deportation efforts.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the administration will stop accepting new applications for DACA. Congress will get six months to pass a new version before officials stop renewing permits." 

  • How does this relate to the youth voices we heard earlier today?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?


 Handout 2, Time

Information excerpted from Associated Press.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia on sued Wednesday to block President Donald Trump's plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation — an act Washington state's attorney general called "a dark time for our country."
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. ...
Opponents of the [DACA] program said they are pleased with the Trump administration's decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel." 

  • How does this relate to the youth voices we heard earlier today?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?


Handout 3, Washington Post 2

Information excerpted from the Washington Post  

Hundreds of teachers and students are demonstrating outside Metro State University in Denver to protest President Donald Trump's decision to repeal a program protecting young immigrants from deportation.
Protesters held posters Tuesday saying, "Accept my resistance and expect my resistance" and "No borders, no nations, no racists, no deportations."
Demonstrations are occurring nationwide, including outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, and in Miami, where young immigrants from Honduras, Mexico and Colombia are expressing shock and sadness.
In Los Angeles, marchers are gathering downtown."

  • How does this relate to the youth voices we heard earlier today?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?

Handout 4, Los Angeles Times 

Information excerpted from the Los Angeles Times.
Former President Barack Obama issued this statement a few hours after the Trump administration announced it would phase out the DACA program. ...
"Immigration can be a controversial topic.  We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.
But that's not what the action that the White House took today is about.  This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag.  These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.  They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants.  They may not know a country besides ours.  They may not even know a language besides English.  They often have no idea they're undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver's license. ...
Let's be clear: the action taken today isn't required legally.  It's a political decision, and a moral question.  Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. " 

  • How does this relate to the youth voices we heard earlier today?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?


Handout 5, Newsmax.com

Information excerpted from Newsmax.
 Conservatives across the country are reacting to President Donald Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and their views are mixed.
Roughly 800,000 people have benefited from the program, which allows people who illegally came to the United States as children with their parents to stay if they meet certain criteria. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday morning the policy will come to an end in six months.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R–Texas, said the policy had good intentions, but it should not have been implemented by executive orders in 2012 under former President Barack Obama.
"This policy, while well–intentioned, was implemented without the approval of Congress by a president who exceeded his authority under the Constitution," Cornyn said. "This president now has the chance to work with Congress towards finding a solution to this issue where his predecessor failed."
Sen. John McCain, R–Ariz., had a different opinion on the matter.
"President Trump's decision to eliminate DACA is the wrong approach to immigration policy at a time when both sides of the aisle need to come together to reform our broken immigration system and secure the border," McCain said. "I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know." 

  • How does this relate to the youth voices we heard earlier today?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?