Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona participated in a virtual discussion with six DACAmented students, educators, school counselors, and policy leaders in honor of Immigrant Heritage Month and the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), a program which provides temporary status to undocumented students and professionals.
Participants shared their personal experiences with the Secretary and with each other.
Secretary Cardona listened and emphasized the importance of continuing to share these stories:
“We need to hear your stories, your lived experiences. You’ve taken the challenges and you’ve turned them into helping others and I’m just so inspired by that. You’re making such a difference in the lives of the people you touch. Continue doing what you’re doing y les prometo que le vamos a echar ganas aquí también. We’re committed at the Department not only to listening, but to acting with what we’ve heard.”
There are an estimated 200,000 DACA educators in our nation’s schools and classrooms who are a lifeline for our students. Since the implementation of the program, over 830,000 people have been able to live, study, and work without fear of deportation and continue to contribute billions in taxes each year.
Alondra Garcia a bilingual educator in Milwaukee shared:
“I’ve been educating my young students who are seven - eight years old about what undocumented and DACA means to ensure they’re aware about how undocumented people contribute to our communities. I think it’s so important to educate our communities and staff about what DACA is because so many people are not familiar with the program, given that it does not directly affect them.”
Maria Almendra Rodriguez a school counselor and Professor at Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California said:
“I’ve been able to use my own personal story and vulnerability to work with DACAmented students via one-on-one sessions to help them adapt their own narrative and confidence in sharing their unique personal experiences. Supporting students right from the beginning in developing, choosing and exploring careers is critical to their success.”
Karen Reyes a special education teacher in Austin highlighted:
“My experience as an undocumented educator has brought me a sense of understanding. My students might not know that they’re undocumented, but I work with a lot of parents, especially in special education. We are a team and they are a very important part of that team. And when they find out that I’m undocumented, that I’m on the same boat as them, it really does open the doors and really facilitates the relationships that are needed to ensure the success of their children.”