Fort Worth

Dropping DACA will be ‘devastating’ to students, Fort Worth superintendent says

Superintendent Kent Scribner is using Facebook to defend students who are pursuing an education through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying plans to phase it out could replace dreams with deportation.

“If the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) is allowed to expire, it would have a devastating effect on members of the Fort Worth ISD family,” Scribner wrote in a message posted Monday night. “Current high school seniors who have college within reach could be forced to alter their post-secondary plans. Our graduates currently in college may not be able to successfully move their lives forward. The impact this decision will have on many students and their families in the Fort Worth ISD community will be far-reaching.”

Earlier this month President Donald Trump announced plans to rescind DACA, which allows children with no immigrant status to study and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Scribner said while “Washington decides immigration policy,” schools are tasked with educating all students.

Scribner’s Facebook post is not the first time this year that school district leaders have taken a public stand in support of immigrants. It was described by the district as reiteration of past statements in support of immigrant students.

In February, Fort Worth trustees passed a resolution declaring schools “welcoming and safe” to all students, regardless of their immigration status.

And more than 400 students marched in downtown Fort Worth in early September urging leaders to keep DACA.

There has also been an ongoing push by immigrant allies to get the Fort Worth City Council to join a “sanctuary cities” lawsuit that is pending in federal court.

The Fort Worth school district has more than 86,000 students. About 63 percent of students were listed Hispanic, according to state data. Studies estimate there are more than 7,000 young people on DACA in Tarrant County with some students in Fort Worth schools among the youngest.

Fort Worth school leaders have emphasized the need to ease the fears of immigrant students and their families as these issues play out on a national stage.

Giovanny Torres, a 24-year-old from Fort Worth, told the Star-Telegram earlier this month he remained optimistic despite Trump’s earlier decision against DACA. Torres, was brought to this country at age 5. For most young people on DACA, there is no path to citizenship under the temporary program.

“I know how strong and resilient the Latino community is and that we will support each other. Then, we’ll get back to work by urging our representatives to take action on immigration reform,” Torres said.

Fort Worth school board member Ann Sutherland represents District 6, which includes campuses with immigrant students who have voiced their worries by walking out of class.

She said “Dr. Scribner’s post reflects the FWISD board’s view and is much appreciated.”

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram