Amid ongoing uncertainty and what may feel like legal whiplash, supporting DACA students is as important as ever.
Here are five tips for supporting DACA students in our schools and on our campuses:
1: Train staff members to be knowledgeable and attentive to the unique needs of these students. This may include training high school or college counselors on the enrollment and financial aid laws of the state or region, training student ambassadors to share information about resources for DACA students during campus tours, or sharing data about the college-going trends of these students in staff development meetings.
2: Provide resources that are intentionally designed to support DACA students and their families. Examples might include “Know Your Rights” workshops, legal counseling, translation services, financial aid counseling, scholarships, or others. Consider partnering with organizations in your community who work to support immigrants or undocumented individuals. Be intentional about making these resources visible and accessible — outreach, market, share, and post!
3: Empower DACA students to share their journeys. Their stories are ones of resilience, persistence, and power — honor them! When students share their stories, they help provide feelings of safety and solidarity to others who may share similar experiences. Listen, learn, and validate these students and their lived experience. With that being said, it is equally important to respect students who may be fearful or hesitant to speak out. Continue to support and empower those students in other ways.
4: Advocate for DACA students. Use your voice to stand up for these students at institutional, state, and federal levels. Encourage your school or institution to be attentive to these students’ needs, advocate for equitable policies that make education more accessible to DACA students, contact your legislators on behalf of these students, and amplify their stories at every available opportunity.
5: Include DACA students in any decisions that are made that may impact them and work to ensure that their voices are heard by decision-makers. Without tokenizing their identity or outing their citizenship status, consult with these students about how they could be better supported by your school or institution.
These students deserve the same opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their goals as their peers do. As educators, counselors, and advocates, we are uniquely positioned to support these students by working to remove barriers to access and success that they may encounter. Together, let us send a loud and clear message that DACA students are #HereToStay!
Julie Kirk is NACAC’s government relations manager. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.