Worry and fear seeped into many lives here in Northampton after President Trump announced his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) on September 5, 2017. Upon first hearing about Mr. Trump’s decision, Mayor David Narkewicz was “very upset, more upset about the way it was done by the president,” and felt it should have been handled in a way that did not leave DACA recipients in the limbo of a six-month deadline.
In 2012, former President Barack Obama announced the creation of DACA, a program that allowed immigrants brought to this country as children to make a life for themselves in America. A DACA recipient, or Dreamer, is able to get driver’s license, receive education scholarships, and work at jobs with health care benefits. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to end DACA may lead to the deportation of 800,000 teenagers and young adults in March 2018.
According to Mr. Narkewicz, many Dreamers are students at local colleges, and worry about not being able to continue their studies and a possible deportation to a place they do not know. But any questions of those affected by the DACA decision being left unable to access an education in Northampton can be ruled out, because Northampton Public Schools and the community as a whole have remained calm, cool, and collected in protecting those affected.
Shortly after Mr. Trump’s announcement, local college students held a candlelight vigil to protest the decision. The vigil, held in an alcove on Hampton Ave, attracted hundreds who came to support those affected. This is one step the community has taken toward keeping its trust and friendliness. Mr. Narkewicz wants those affected by DACA to remember that “Northampton remains a welcoming community for all of our residents.”
Northampton High School Principal Bryan Lombardi said the “decision impacts and limits part of our population getting involved and growing. Although Northampton is a supportive community, a lack of trust may be present” when addressing how this will affect our community.
“Last year, handbooks were updated to give undocumented students the right to education. At Northampton Public Schools, we will never turn down a child seeking an education,” Superintendent John Provost said. The schools will remain a safe environment for everyone. “If an immigration officer were to come to the school they would be let into the office, no further, the superintendent would be contacted immediately, and no access to students would be permitted,” Mr. Lombardi said.
All NPS teachers have gone through training for any and all possible situations involving DACA recipients. Mr. Narkewicz is aware that presidents of local colleges have “all been very clear in terms of their support for their students” in DACA and are “pressing the federal government for a resolution and for support.”
Some students here at NHS either know someone or may be affected by this change. “The most important thing students can do is educate themselves and become aware of the impacts. Then if they see a peer in need due to concerns, you should reach out to them and always remind others of resources,” Dr. Provost advises.
Some resources here at the school consist of Ms. Goodwin-Boyd, and other guidance counselors or faculty. As well as going to the responsible adults in the building, Dr. Provost also suggests the ACLU Immigration Protection Project of Western Massachusetts hotline at (413) 727-8515, if you ever need to reach out to someone. Mr. Narkewicz recommends getting in touch with federal leaders, senators and congressmen, as well as organizations such as the Center for New Americans. Attached below is the website faculty in NPS use for reference, http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/irli-daca-recipients-rights/.