September 5, 2017

Nursing Organizations Urge Trump To Keep DACA Dreams Alive

Nursing Organizations Urge Trump To Keep DACA Dreams Alive

By Staff Writer

Updated Wednesday 4:19pm PST: 

"I'm a Nurse thanks to DACA," stated Gabriel Rodriquez. She continued, "I want people to know that DACA has done great things for me. In nursing school I was named - Student of the Year - selected out of 6000 students and was awarded the Nightingale Award. I just want to help make this country better." 

Updated 8:25am PST:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that DACA will be rescinded. He cited "executive overreach by the Obama administration" and "a policy that was vulnerable to legal challenges," as the main reasons behind the decision. He stressed that his job was to enforce the law and that a 6-month window would be provided for Congress to change the law.

He called for an orderly wind-down of the program. The way forward seems a bit murky here. With the 6-month moratorium, current participants will be able to apply for DACA renewal before March 2018, but it remains to be seen whether they'll be able to stay after that time.

Original Post 1:03 am PST:

The Trump Administration is expected to announce today that it will end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In light of vocal opposition from both parties, the administration has offered a six-month delay to give Congress an opportunity to work out an alternative solution.

Often referred to as the Dreamer’s Act, DACA allows children brought over illegally by their parents to obtain temporary work permits, social security numbers, and driver’s licenses, giving them the opportunity to work and attend school without the threat of deportation.

As such, they are able to legally pursue professions in medicine, science, and education. After being approved, they must apply for renewal every 2 years.

Organizations Take A Stand

Since becoming aware of the president’s plans, several nursing organizations have sprung into action.  In a statement issued last Friday, the largest labor union for nurses, National Nurses United, repeated its call on the Trump administration to withdraw the threat to terminate the program.  In the statement, they said:

“The young people who have been protected from being torn apart from their families and their communities by DACA should have the right to continue to contribute to our society,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.

Some 800,000 young people covered by DACA, implemented under the Obama administration, are permitted to apply for work permits that need to be renewed every two years. If the program is terminated, they would face the threat of deportation.

“At a time when the words and actions of this administration have encouraged white supremacists and others who foment racial hatred and division, targeting these law abiding young people who work, study, and have become valuable members of our diverse nation, would send a dreadful message to our nation,” said Burger.

“Revoking DACA would also be an abrogation of the President’s call in a speech in Reno this week for ‘national unity’ and healing ‘the wounds that divide us’,” said Burger. “Ending this humane program would exacerbate and inflame those wounds. After Charlottesville, the message of terminating DACA could not be worse.” 

Other organizations such Apple, Dignity Health, and Facebook have also released statements in support of DACA.

What Could This Mean For Nurses?

Between 2012 - 2016, US Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that 23 states (plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands) have approved 787,580 dreamers into the program. Almost half of those dreamers were from California and Texas.

Additionally, a recent survey showed that the largest percentage of DACA participants (21%) were employed in the educational and health services industries. There are countless stories of students who have been able to pursue their dreams of nursing because of this program.

With significant nursing shortages predicted for states like California, Texas, and New Jersey, ending DACA could pose a serious threat to our entire medical system.

Steady Rise of Deportations

Burger went on to say that “Millions of families in our nation have already been traumatized by the escalation of deportations of peaceful, law-abiding undocumented immigrant.” 

Last April, the president said his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals.” However, since February, more than 57,000 people have been ordered to leave the country - a nearly 31 percent increase over the same period in 2016 while Obama was in office.

And this new development comes on the heels of the highly-publicized deportation of Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a nurse who had worked at Oakland’s Highland Hospital for over 22 years.

One of Mendoza-Sanchez’s daughters, Vianney, is a DACA recipient and is currently guardian to her youngest sister, Elizabeth. The future of these two young women is now in jeopardy.

What You Can Do

Considering the unpredictability of the president’s previous statements, we hope he remembers his previous promises to “deal with DACA with heart.”

If you are interested in taking action to defend DACA, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project has a few suggestions:

  • Contact the White House by phone at (202) 456-1111 (calls are accepted between 9am - 4pm EST)
  • Send a message to the White House using the online form:
  • Tweet @realDonaldTrump and your Senators/Representatives: “@[HANDLE], protect DACA! My community stands with immigrant youth! #DefendDACA #HeretoStay”

Image Credit: Photo Credit: “Protesters marching against Donald Trump”, © 2016 Fibonacci Blue, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio