Education Sec. Betsy DeVos has made her intentional attack on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients official, finalizing a rule that blocks undocumented students from emergency funds the department received to assist students like them with expenses amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports.
Democratic lawmakers and advocates had blasted the department for the decision, saying there was nothing in the law that forced officials to bar undocumented students from this important relief. “After facing a lawsuit over the reading, the Trump administration told a court it would not enforce Ms. DeVos’s order,” The Times continued. “Now it appears the administration is moving to toughen it.”
The California Community Colleges system last month sued the Education Department over the decision, with the chancellor’s office telling the Los Angeles Times that because of the criteria set by the department, in fact hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in the system could be affected.
“Those excluded include veterans, students with disabilities, and students training to be healthcare workers and first responders, the chancellor’s office said,” the LA Times reported. “Many students who may be most in need of relief will be deprived of assistance during this public health crisis,’ the lawsuit states.”
Now that the administration is moving forward with its attack even after it seemed like it was backing down in court, as The Times reports, it’s only throwing more chaos and hate at young immigrants already facing so much uncertainty as many wait for a Supreme Court decision on the very existence of the DACA program.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I’ve become the sole provider of my household since my parents and younger siblings lost their jobs,” Luz Chavez Gonzales, a junior at Trinity Washington University, said in April. “We’ve had to cut back and budget on essential items. DACA allows me to work, and with a health crisis and the uncertainty of an upcoming DACA Supreme Court ruling, my family could lose their only source of income.”
“Ensuring that all students have secure housing, food, and health care during a time of economic turmoil is a key part of keeping families safe and indoors and to ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” Democratic senators told DeVos that same month. “Furthermore, we have seen disturbing data on how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color. Blocking support for DACA recipients will only worsen this crisis and harm our families and communities.”
In addition to suing the department, other California educational institutions have also stepped up for DACA recipients, following both the University of California and California State University systems announcing they would be using a portion of their own funds to mitigate some of the damage caused by DeVos to students.
“[T]hese students will not be left empty-handed,” University of California spokesperson Sarah McBride told Inside Higher Ed. “The University will leverage other institutional funds to replace financial support that these students have been unfairly restricted from accessing.”
The Times reports the official rule will be posted for 30 days for public comment. We’ll update that information when it’s available so the Daily Kos community can do so.