Remember when Betsy DeVos said her “heart is with Dreamers?”
It was last September, just before her visit to Colorado, when she received a hand delivered letter from Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg imploring her to use all the efforts of her office to protect Dreamers.
Clearly she didn’t get the message. And back then, I really tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Since then, she’s stood silent as her boss punted the issue to Congress, whose members continue to fumble it themselves, leaving 800,000 individuals with DACA status in a looming state of uncertainty. And now, Betsy is telling schools they should be allowed to decide whether or not to report undocumented students to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Yeah, that actually happened. And it’s taken me three days to calm down and gather myself. But make no mistake, like my friend and colleague Tanesha Peeples, I’m still outraged.
The fact that this happened three days ago does not mean this is old news. What she said on Tuesday can not be forgotten and we cannot allow it to get swept up and lost among all the other ridiculous statements flying out of the administration this week. So if you missed it, here’s your recap.
While testifying before Congress, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, who was once undocumented, posed the following question to DeVos:
“Inside the school if a principal or a teacher finds out that a certain child is undocumented, or his or her family members are undocumented, do you feel that the principal or teacher is responsible to call ICE and to have that family reported?”
Without an ounce of compassion or Constitutional knowledge, DeVos responded saying, “Sir, I think that’s a school decision. That’s a local community decision. And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate and I urge this body to do its job and address or clarify where there is confusion around this.”
Yes Betsy, we do have laws. And, as Secretary of Education of these United States, it would behoove you to read up on them.
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union, summed it up best:
“Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status.”
That’s because the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that individuals with undocumented status may enjoy the same benefits of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment…period.
Look, we all have a learning curve, and we all make mistakes. But our Secretary of Education continues to lead recklessly and unapologetically with marked ignorance. And if her heart were truly in the right place when it comes to serving all school children, her lack of knowledge might be more tolerable. I believed her at the start of the school year when she said she had a heart for Dreamers. But here we are at the end of the school year, and I think she’s lost it somewhere along the way.
And, her latest comments on Capitol Hill suggest it might be time to see the Wizard. If she only had a heart, a brain, and the courage to stand up for Dreamers, all students of color, and every other child who was not afforded the same privileged education as she was, forget about the rainbow. I’d be over the moon.
Photo credit: Newsweek