Help Your Students Understand the Impact of the End of DACA

This post is part of our blog series Integrate Current Events Into Your Courses, which aims to provide lecture topics and corresponding course books that will help your students think critically about today’s conversations on social inequality.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in six months if Congress cannot find a different and more permanent solution. The statements Attorney General Jeff Sessions has used to describe many DACA recipients have been said to be misleading. And clarification about how DACA came about, who is affected, and what will happen next has been shared widely (click on Twitter hashtags #DACA #DREAMer to see the volume of commentary that’s been generated since earlier this week).

What has been sorely missed are the personal stories—those of people who were brought here as children to escape persecution or other hardships, have lived here in the United States peacefully, and are now poised to productively contribute to society. One such story is that of Jesus Contreras, a Houston-area paramedic who has been helping his community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And others, such as the DACA recipient who participated in a sit-down interview at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s home, notes that, “[a]ll we’re asking for is a chance . . . I urge members of Congress to meet a DREAMer.”

Books That Integrate Current Events Into Your Courses

Below are recommended books you can assign to help students put a face to those affected by the end of DACA.

Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America by Roberto G. Gonzales, winner of the 2016 C. Wright Mills Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems

Roberto has written about how DACA beneficiaries contribute to society. He continues to serve as champion to immigrant children and has recently discussed how DACA has affected their mental health and well-being.

“It will stand as the definitive study of the undocumented coming of age in our midst. It is a book every teacher, every policymaker, indeed every concerned citizen should read and ponder.”—Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, coeditor of Latinos: Remaking America

 

 

Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody by Susan J. Terrio

Susan has written about what happens to undocumented children and families in the Trump era. She has also been interviewed regarding her thoughts on U.S. government’s treatment of children and who has access to the American dream.

“An impressive grasp of relevant history, law, policy and practice. Essential reading for anyone interested in one of the US’s most urgent contemporary human rights challenges.”–Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University

 

 

Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families by Joanna Dreby, winner of the 2017 Distinguished Contribution to Research Award, Section for Latina/o Sociology, American Sociological Association

Joanna writes about how to tell children not to be afraid. She is committed to discussing and changing policies that undermine immigrant families.

“Eloquent and sharp… an important contribution to the literature on undocumented populations.”—Harvard Educational Review

 

 

 

Dreams and Nightmares: Immigration Policy, Youth, and Families by Marjorie S. Zatz and Nancy Rodriguez

Marjorie speaks frequently about how sweeping political decisions have enormous consequences to swaths of people living in the U.S.

“Highly valuable… this book is a combination of informative resources, rigorous social science research, and is well written to boot!”—Sociology and Social Welfare

 

 

 

 

Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation by Deborah Boehm

Deborah discusses the fate of returnees and deportees, or “lost citizens.” Her research has focused on migrants’ lives before and after federal custody but she now intends to do research on detention itself.

“Boehm challenges sterile depictions of deportations in the media and political debates. This urgent book is a must read.”—Cecilia Menjívar, author of Immigrant Families

 

See other books on immigration and read the Immigration Syllabus: UC Press Edition#ImmigrationSyllabus


What Happens to Undocumented Children & Families in the Trump Era

By Susan J. Terrio, author of Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody

U.S. Border Patrol apprehension of migrants, Rio Grande Valley Sector near McAllen, Texas. Photo by Michelle Frankfurter.
U.S. Border Patrol apprehend migrants near McAllen, Texas. Photo by Michelle Frankfurter.

Academics, advocates and legal scholars here and abroad expressed alarm at the campaign rhetoric of then presidential candidate Donald Trump, who promised to build a wall on our southern border to keep out “illegals,” to ban Muslims and to create a federal registry to track them, to end humanitarian protections for undocumented youths brought to this country as children, and to round-up and deport 1.9 million unauthorized immigrants. Now in office, Trump is delivering on those promises with a rash of executive orders fueled by his own vision of the nation and a false sense of urgency regarding the threats posed by foreign workers, criminal aliens, and Muslim terrorists.

I wrote Whose Child Am I? to emphasize the dangers of creating two parallel but separate federal systems to manage the increasing numbers of unaccompanied, undocumented Central American and Mexican children who were apprehended by U.S. immigration authorities after fleeing violence at home: preemptive detention in closed facilities and monitored programs and placement in deportation proceedings in immigration courts. I also noted the conflict of interest created when one branch of the government assigns itself as a child’s legal guardian while another branch prosecutes that same child for violating immigration law. Undocumented children currently have no right to funded legal representation in court and are subject to arbitrary placement and release decisions while in custody. The limited rights and humanitarian safeguards they enjoy in federal detention are offset by due process violations, detention with no set endpoint, limited access to pro bono attorneys, and the fear of deportation after release.

Terrio Whose Child Am IAs my book was going to press in 2014, migratory flows of unaccompanied children and undocumented families from Central America exploded. We witnessed desperate migrants running to, not away from, Border Patrol agents. The U.S. has treated this violence-driven refugee crisis as if it were an economic migration problem. The Obama administration responded to the arrival of unprecedented numbers of undocumented children and families with enhanced enforcement and heightened deterrence policies designed to prevent their entry and to remove them rapidly. These included expedited processing that stripped them of basic constitutional protections and exposed them to abuse, the outsourcing of the violent interdiction, detention and deportation of Central Americans to Mexico and Guatemala, and the rapid expansion of detention facilities in the U.S. for both unaccompanied minors and families with children. Despite these policies, in 2016, a record number of unaccompanied minors crossed the border and were detained-77,674.

The large-scale detention and deportation regime can only be expected to continue as Trump’s recent executive orders call for a border wall, robust collaboration between local and federal authorities to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, sanctions against sanctuary cities, and tougher procedures for admitting refugees. We would do well to remember the terrible costs of vicious nativism and anti-immigrant rhetoric in our history. We need to use verifiable facts to expose the Trump administration’s exaggerated threats that justify increasingly restrictive policies and muscular border control.

 


Susan TerrioSusan J. Terrio is is Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University. In addition to Whose Child Am I?, she is also the author of Judging Mohammed: Juvenile Delinquency, Immigration, and Exclusion at the Paris Palace of Justice. 


Whose Child Am I? author interviewed on WAMU 88.5

Susan TerrioSusan Terrio, Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University and author of the recently released Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody, appeared on WAMU 88.5 American University Radio. In her book, Terrio delves deeper into the workings of this vast, yet rarely explored system: “What were their motivations for leaving their home country? What happened to them on the journey? What happened to them crossing the border? Who did they belong to? What were their family stories? And who has the ultimate responsibility for them?”

To the full interview and read the full text of the article, follow the link to WAMU 88.5’s website.

Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody
Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody

Terrio, speaking with WAMU’s Armando Trull, says of the closed, prison-like organization of these detention centers:

“[The facilities] are institutionalized settings that are organized by security level on a penal model. There are controlled entry and exits, there is monitored movement within the premises, there are stipulated line of sight checks, there is camera surveillance, there is constant supervision.”

“And once the kids go into these facilities, they don’t leave except for appearances in court proceedings and occasional mental and medical health appointments outside. That means that they go to school inside, they play sports within fenced areas. To insist that this system, because it involves civil violations in an administrative court proceeding is not incarceration I think is a fiction that can no longer be sustained.”

Concluding, Terrio argues, “… there is no humane way to incarcerate families and children. It should not be a first response; it should be a last resort.”


Susan Terrio on What Life Is Like for Migrant Children

Susan Terrio’s research on the unaccompanied children in U.S. immigration custody has led her to places few others witness. The Office of Refugee Resettlement granted Terrio rare access to 20 federal facilities and six foster-care facilities between 2009 and 2012, where she conducted in-depth interviews with 40 formerly detained young migrants.

In this piece for Politico, she presents rare interviews with the children of America’s border disaster:

Consider the case of Ernesto. He told me he fled horrific abuse in Honduras and migrated with two friends, hitching rides and traveling by foot through Guatemala and Mexico. They avoided cargo trains because people can fall off them and die. “I mean, you just don’t care about the odds or you wouldn’t do it,” Ernesto says of his journey. “How did I decide? It was the American Dream.” Ernesto worked his way north until he was seized by members of the Zetas cartel outside a Mexican border town. He was starved and beaten, while the Zetas extorted $4,000 from his family back home. He escaped, but three companions were killed when they balked at the cartel’s demands.

Carlita, a 13-year-old Salvadoran girl, fled gang violence. She told me she was also kidnapped by the Zetas in Mexico, used for sex and forced to be a drug mule for them, before escaping and ultimately making it to the border. Carlos, who grew up on a small Salvadoran coffee plantation, fled the country at age 15 after being abused by his father. He hitchhiked and walked his way to the U.S.-Mexico border and joined six migrants, with whom he crossed the Rio Grande River at night. A pregnant woman in the group was swept away and drowned. The others made it but were surrounded by Border Patrol agents within minutes.

Susan Terrio’s forthcoming book from UC Press, Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody will be released in May 2015.