By The Dallas Morning News
How sad it’s come to this: Dallas ISD is pressed to come up with plans to help students who might come home to find their parents or guardians have been swept up in raids by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents.
The district is smart to plan ahead, especially since it’s believed that thousands of students (the district can’t ask immigration status) could be affected here. It’s disheartening to think of these young people suddenly without the loved ones charged to take care of them. Exactly where are these kids supposed to go?
This palpable fear underscores why the debate taking place right now in Congress on fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and wider immigration reform is so important right here at home. Our lawmakers in Washington must come up with common-sense solutions to bring some much-need certainty to these families, who are living in our neighborhoods with kids in our local schools.
And it isn’t just a problem for those kids and their families. Imagine the disruption in classrooms and the further strain on Child Protective Services and the foster care system if suddenly thousands more kids need homes.
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he doesn’t want to create a panic. But he knows his district has to prepare should the government fail to extend the DACA program, which is set to expire in March, or address overall immigration.
In Dallas, the fear of kids losing parents to arrests or possible deportation is increasingly real.
Consider that the Dallas enforcement area, which include about half of Texas’ counties and the state of Oklahoma, had the most ICE arrests in the country in 2017. There were 16,520 arrests, ahead of Houston which had 13,565. These arrests included many North Texas parents and guardians of newly arrived immigrant children.
This newspaper has urged Congress to immediately deal with the crisis involving the 800,000 Dreamers, whose parents brought them here illegally as children. But lawmakers also must provide a fuller solution for the roughly 13 million immigrants here illegally. We’re encouraged that President Donald Trump has indicated he’d support comprehensive reform.
There should be a path to legalization, whether it’s citizenship, work visas or long-term residency, that will bring these immigrants out of the shadows. Many are contributing mightily to our communities, paying taxes and building local economies.
But we’ve also agreed with Republicans that if we help unauthorized immigrants but fail to better control illegal entry into the country, we may only encourage more illegal entry.
Stuck in the middle of all this are vulnerable students. How are they supposed to learn with the fear that their parents could be swept away hanging over them? DISD is right to try to protect them.
Congress needs to do its job and find solutions now.