Friday, April 12, 2024

With DACA in Limbo, so is the future of American Children

Karen Reyes, a DACA recipient, spends her days teaching a group of deaf toddlers at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten School in Austin, Tex., how to understand a world they cannot hear.

“There’s so much pressure to be a perfect immigrant,” Ms. Reyes said. “They basically want us to save babies from burning buildings, have a 5.0 GPA and become doctors. But I’m just teaching these tiny humans to be great Americans.”

For the first time in her teaching career, Ms. Reyes, 29, is at a loss. One of nearly 9,000 educators protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, she has struggled to explain to her students, through sign language and pictures, the uncertainty of her future.

When President Trump cancelled DACA in September, he gave Congress until early March to find a replacement before deportations are set to begin for the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country as children. Ms. Reyes was brought to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico, by her mother at age 2.

Much to the dismay of educators and advocates, the program created by President Obama has become a bargaining chip for the White House. President Trump has conditioned its codification in law on Democratic acceptance of several tough demands. In the meantime, Ms. Reyes and thousands like her brace themselves for the unknown as deadlines are close by and congress is far from reaching a decision.

“I don’t know what I’m going to tell them,” Ms. Reyes said through tears. “They understand when I go on an airplane. Maybe they’ll just think I’m on a never-ending flight.”