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        FOR RELEASE                                                                                CONTACT:  Tonya Harris
        August 17, 2017                                                                             (202) 393-2427 or tharris@cgcs.org 

    Statement on DACA Rollback

    by Michael Casserly, Executive Director

    Council of the Great City Schools

    Washington-- It should be remembered that Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s first Republican president and arguably its best, signed into law the “Act to Encourage Immigration” on July 4, 1864. He argued strenuously in favor of the legislation not only because it appealed to the aspirations of a good many people who wanted a brighter future, but because it was good for the nation, economically and culturally. In his view, immigrants and their children formed a “replenishing stream.” Of course, much has changed since 1864. But the fact that we are better off as a nation thanks to the contributions of immigrants has not. Yet before Lincoln’s advocacy and since, there have been forces loose in the country that would demonize that stream as a polluted river that must be dammed up—or walled off.

    For those who work in public education, of course, these broader concerns over immigration come second to our immediate focus on the health and welfare of our immigrant children who were brought to this country through no fault of their own. The mission of public schools is to create opportunity—not for some children, but for all. The public-school system has not always been true to that dream, but it is striving to meet the needs of those dreamers now. For urban public schools, whose classrooms are filled with students from all over the world, our mission is not to reflect or perpetuate the walls that others would build. Our job is to tear them down, to educate future generations of informed, engaged citizens. In the spirit of this mission, we condemn the dissolution of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—whether now or in six months—by the president, and the value system that led him to conclude that America could only be great again without the patriotism, ingenuity, and voices of these children.

    We now call on Congress to act swiftly to enshrine this protection into law and remove the fear and uncertainty facing so many of our nation’s schoolchildren.