Shared from the 2017-10-12 Hobbs News Sun eEdition

Lovington schools adopt DACA resolution

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DOROTHY N. FOWLER/NEWS-SUN Marina Pina speaks in favor of a resolution asking the New Mexico delegation to Congress to expedite immigration legislation protecting DACA students at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lovington School Board.

Despite several wording changes, a much debated DACA resolution supporting undocumented students and teachers narrowly passed the Lovington School Board Tuesday night in a three-to-two vote.

DACA, the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program announced by President Barack Obama in June of 2012. Under its terms, youngsters who were brought to the United States illegally can register with the government, thus assuring they will be free from fear of deportation for two years and can obtain a work permit. They can renew their status under DACA.

However, President Donald Trump announced in March of this year that he would rescind the DACA program and challenged Congress to enact legislation reforming the nation’s immigration policy within six months.

The move has left many school districts across the nation debating on how best to protect their DACA students and teachers. Some districts have gone as far as to state they would chain their doors shut against federal agents seeking to carry out deportation orders.

Fears, that such measures may be on the table in Loving-ton led many to hotly debate the issue when the school board first discussed a possible resolution at its Sept. 17 meeting.

Objections to the resolution were primarily focused on the resolution becoming a political statement by a board that is supposed to be non-partisan.

Board member Dymorie Maker renewed her objection on that basis at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Everyone knows someone who will be affected by this,” Maker said. “Many are empathetic to the people who are concerned. But often times we have have become frustrated by [government] over-reaching. This is a federal and state issue that should be addressed by state and federal governments. Every reference to pulling out the DACA students is inappropriate. My concern is for all students.” Board member Zac Zimmerman also objected to the resolution on the grounds that the board was stepping into politics. “School boards are designed to be non-political. I don’t like the way DACA was enacted and I don’t like the way it’s being rolled back. For us to step into it, we are stepping into a political agenda. I don’t know that there is a way to step into this. The sad things is that through all the political talk, there are kids and families. I’m for the kids and I want to support the kids,” Zimmerman said.

However, the general outline of the resolution adopted Tuesday was worded as a plea to New Mexico’s Congressional delegation to expedite legislation protecting DACA’s “dreamers” — some 800,000 people nationally protected under DACA.

Board member Mara Salcido-Alcantar countered the political statement arguments, saying the board has passed other resolutions of similar nature.

“We have approved resolutions against bullying,” Salcido-Alcantar said, “and this is the same kind of thing.”

Board member Paul Campos said that removing mention of DACA could weaken the intent of the resolution.

“We have to be very careful with this resolution,” Campos said. “If we make too many changes, DACA will be washed away.”

Before the board began its discussion, three members of the Hispanic community spoke to the board about how important DACA is to their community and their families.

Marina Pina, a community organizer with SOMOS Lea County, spoke about the need for children and their families to feel secure in the community and at school.

Pina, who speaks fluent English, served as translator for Lorena Murillo and Luz Gardea, both of whom have children who have either already graduated from Lovington High School or are still in school. They urged the board to adopt the resolution, pointing out that their families either owns businesses in Lovington or work in the area and are taxpaying “good citizens.”

The board approved the resolution three-to-two asking New Mexico’s delegation to Congress “to deliver an expedient legislative solution that provides all DACA recipients with certainty in fulfilling all of their potential.”

A full copy of the resolution can be read on the News-Sun website, www.hobbsnews.com.

See the full resolution at hobbsnews.com

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