[Newark, NJ - September 5, 2017] Newark Public Schools (NPS) Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf responded on Tuesday to news that the federal government was dissolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“I am extremely disappointed by the administration’s decision to roll-back the DACA program unless Congress acts,” said Superintendent Cerf. “This action has the potential to cruelly upend the lives of 800,000 people, including some of our own students and colleagues. I appeal to the United States Congress to, in President Lincoln’s words, listen to the ‘better angels of our nature.’ These individuals did not choose to be here. That choice was made for them, but the United States is now their home and they are no more or less American than the rest of us. Uprooting them at this stage of their young lives would be inconsistent with our nation’s values and history. I implore the Congress to replace partisanship with compassion and to do what is right for hundreds of thousands of innocent young people.”
This past spring, Superintendent Cerf shared a letter assuring all undocumented families that their right to education in Newark would not be affected by recent political events. The letter was distributed to all NPS families and all information remains true today. A few of the topics the letter addresses include:
- Undocumented immigrant status does not affect a child’s right to attend a public school in Newark. Children have a constitutional right to have equal access to education regardless of their immigration status or their parents’ status.
- Newark Public Schools, like all districts in NJ, does not ask for a child’s immigration status when he or she enrolls.
Superintendent Cerf also signed a petition earlier this year to express his support for the continuation of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.
“Most importantly, I want all of our undocumented families in Newark to know that their children are welcome in our schools and that we continue to stand with them,” added Cerf. “I applaud Mayor Baraka for his strong stance on this issue and urge fellow school district and city leaders to speak out as well. Let’s work together on behalf of the many current and potential DACA beneficiaries in our schools to push Congress to act swiftly to sustain the DACA program.”
The district began hosting “Know Your Rights” workshops in December 2016 in partnership with city leaders and staff from UndocuJersey, Faith in NJ, and local immigration attorneys. Each workshop is designed to help educate Newark families about their immigration rights, ranging from providing information about how new policies affect Newark families to connecting undocumented students and families with resources and services that will help them navigate their higher education options. A majority of workshops arze conducted in Spanish, while English speakers are equipped with interpretation devices. The district will continue to hold this series of workshops throughout the fall of 2017 and into 2018. The next workshop is October 7th.
For more resources on the topic, Newark Public Schools families can access: www.nps.k12.nj.us/info/immigration-resources