Supporting DACA Students

Supporting Undocumented and DACAmented Students
by David Boyles

The recent Arizona Supreme Court decision rescinding in-state tuition for students at Arizona universities and community colleges who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is just the latest blow for DACA recipients here in Arizona. Much like Donald Trump at the national level, Arizona Republicans like Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who brought the tuition lawsuit, have used attacks on DACA recipients to appeal to nativisit and anti-immigrant resentment. But while these politicians score political points, the lives of hard-working young people have been thrown into disarray.

As a teacher at ASU, I have worked with DACA recipients and other undocumented students. To pursue higher education as an undocumented young person, even one with DACA protections, takes an incredible amount of discipline and sacrifice. Barred from any type of government financial aid, many students pay for their degree in cash, often taking one or two classes at a time because it is all they can afford.

And while I could point to specific students I have worked with, I also recognize that I don’t even know how many DACA and undocumented students I have worked with. Many are not “out” about their immigration status, especially at school, so they deal with the financial difficulties and other instabilities often in isolation. Imagine trying to focus on an English 101 paper last September, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the DACA program, and then imagine that your professor doesn’t realize the reason you turned in your assignment late is because you are worried about your ability to stay in the country. These are the types of challenges these students face everyday.

But despite these obstacles, DACA and undocumented students have thrived and, in many cases, become leaders in our local community. Norma Jimenez, a Grand Canyon University graduate, is director of Latino outreach for Planned Parenthood of Arizona and has made advocacy for undocumented patients part of that organization’s agenda, as described in a story last year by BuzzFeed News.  ASU student Belén Sisa, a member of Undocumented Students for Education Equity at ASU, and ASU graduate Erika Andiola were among the eight people arrested for occupying Congressional offices in December in protest of the Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act.

It is a cruel irony that these remarkable women, and many more like them, have become political leaders in Arizona despite not having the right to vote. It is a reminder that voting is a precious thing, not to be taken for granted, and those who have the right need to use it. And while a permanent solution in the form of a DREAM Act is in the hands of Congress and the president, at the local level we need to vote for candidates who will support these young people, not use them as political props like Mark Brnovich.

For more information on the situation of DACA and undocumented students at ASU, check out ASU’s excellent DREAMZone. If you work at ASU or in K-12 education, DREAMZone offers Ally Training programs which are eligible for professional development credit.

For more general information on advocacy for the DREAM Act and other DACA issues, check out United We Dream, the largest national organization for undocumented youth.


David Boyles is an English instructor at Arizona State University.

18 ways to be part of the LD18 Dems Blue Wave

By Rebecca Hinton, LD18 Democrats Board Member and Chair of the Environmental Club, and Susie Thornton, LD18 Democrats Social Media & Communications Co-Coordinator

  1. Become a recurring donor. Talk to Jeff Tucker: jefftuckerawa@yahoo.com
  2. Join us on Slack – Don’t know how? Or even what Slack is? Contact Alison Porter: alisonporter26@gmail.com or Melissa Megna: melmegna@gmail.com
  3. Follow Arizona Democrats of Legislative District 18 on Facebook and share posts. Follow us on Twitter @LD18Dems and retweet. Follow us on Instagram at ld18dems.
  4. Help with Voter Registration. To find out how reach out to Alison Porter: alisonporter26@gmail.com or Melissa Megna: melmegna@gmail.com
  5. Canvass for Mitzi Epstein: carriembrownaz@gmail.com. And for Jennifer Jermaine: jermaineforhouse@gmail.com. And for LaDawn Stuben: ladawnstuben@gmail.com
  6. Drive Sean Bowie to meet the voters. Contact Dr. Janie Hydrick: hydrick@aol.com or Sean Bowie: seanmbowie@gmail.com
  7. Join our Social Media & Communications Team (SMAC)! Slack channel for info on upcoming meetings. Contact Susie Thornton: sthornton51@gmail.com or Kate Tice: ktice007@msn.com
  8. Lend us your voice and write a blog for our web page. Blog topics: Environment, Education, Healthcare, & Equality. Contact Laurie Nerat: azlaurie23@cox.net
  9. Like planning events? Helping at events? Our Event Team needs your support! Kevin Walsh: john.walsh@gmail.com
  10. Join the Welcome Committee – meet our members and help at the meetings. Melissa Megna: melmegna@gmail.com
  11. Community service projects? Follow Dems Give Back on Facebook for details. Rebecca Hinton: rahinton@hotmail.com
  12. Monthly meeting setup. Arrive early and help unload vehicles, move tables, put out flyers, etc. Contact Dr. Janie Hydrick: hydrick@aol.com
  13. Do you like taking videos? Volunteer to help with videography at meetings: ktice007@msn.com
  14. Get trained! PC training. Van training. Details: Alison Porter: alisonporter26@gmail.com or Melissa Megna: melmegna@gmail.com
  15. Join our Fundraising Team. We want your ideas and support! Contact Kevin Walsh: john.walsh@gmail.com
  16. Are you trained and ready to speak out on Request to Speak? If not, talk to Cathy Sigmon: sigmon@gmail.com
  17. Work with the SOS team to save public education. Alison Porter: alisonporter26@gmail.com
  18. Data entry/tech stuff, clean up our contact database. Susie Thornton: sthornton51@gmail.com

 

Libraries: The thin red line…

“Libraries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism.”

This month is the 60th anniversary of National Library Week, which we celebrate April 8-14.  In the mid-1950’s research showed that Americans were spending more on radios, televisions and musical instruments than books. Concerned that Americans were reading less a non-profit citizen’s group of librarians and booksellers created a national campaign to encourage people to read.

I grew up in that era, in a household in which everyone read. The books, magazines, and especially newspapers consumed by three generations living together reflected a wide spectrum of political and social views, from the left-leaning Jewish Daily Forward to the conservative and sensationalist New York Post, with an array of iconic NY papers – the Times, Daily News, and the long-defunct Journal American  –  somewhere in the middle.

Reading was in my DNA and libraries were my incubator. My love affair with libraries started with the bookmobile that came to our neighborhood in Brooklyn every Friday afternoon and continues today as I happily frequent the public libraries in and around Tempe and my NJ hometown, and everywhere I travel.  Libraries draw me in, sometimes because of the architecture, sometimes the history or subject matter, and often simply because they are there.

Public libraries are unique among civic institutions in that they are a haven for those seeking literacy and the opportunity to explore ideas, as well as a haven for many who need a place to go during the day. I was volunteering at the Burton Barr Library when storm damage closed the building. At that time, I did not realize the extent of the impact on the community.  Children lost free hot meals, provided by a local food bank, those with autism lost the cafe that offered them training and job skills, and those who needed it most lost their refuge from the summer heat.

It may be easy to dismiss public libraries as less essential in the age of e-books, streaming media, and Google, but there are considerable portions of our community who do not have ready access to these resources or the education or training to navigate them successfully. The inventive ways in which public libraries remain vibrant and relevant are marvelous and many. The Tempe Public Library, like others in the valley, represents the best characteristics of public libraries –  looking inward to serve their core constituency while reaching outward to engage and enrich the community. The wealth of free research guidance and one on one assistance, not to mention electronic resources – books, magazines, newspapers, research databases, music, movies – is remarkable. And consider the range of opportunities offered by our local libraries to learn, share and teach, including classes in citizenship, coding, game design, 3D modeling, ESL, writing, knitting, test preparation, films, lectures, and services such as small business advice and seed libraries.

While many communities still have bookmobiles to serve rural areas, Tempe has the Book Bike program, which brings books and information about library and community services to veterans, seniors, and the city’s homeless population.

And then there are the librarians. I must admit that I have no recollection of any of the public or school librarians from my childhood, but I can trace my decision to become one directly to the librarians for whom I worked in college. They seemed so cool! Smart, persistent, caring and wise (and wise-cracking), but with a certain self-effacing humor, as if they didn’t expect the world to take them seriously. And, despite the stereotypes, all my mentors were men – no buns but lots of glasses!

I have observed librarians over the years playing many roles in a community, as advocates and activists. They are often on the cutting edge of evolving technology, and on the front lines promoting digital literacy, championing intellectual freedom, ensuring equality of access, resisting censorship and protecting the right to privacy. Many of us remember the Patriot Act provision that authorized secretly monitoring electronic communications coming from libraries and requiring librarians to turn over patron records to the FBI when served with a warrant obtained without probable cause.  Professional library associations united as one to protest these incursions on our civil liberties.

As a law librarian, I have been a member of an outspoken and activist professional association that lobbies for permanent and open public access to government information, access to court records, net neutrality, intellectual property protections, and funding for library services across the country.  At a time when we are at risk of losing access to scientific and technical information because our government deems the truth to be inconvenient to their agenda, librarians are among our strongest allies and advocates. Librarians are adept at teaching us how to verify the authenticity and reliability of a source, and how to separate fact from fiction, evidence from opinion.

In many communities, librarians are taking on roles akin to social workers, health care workers, counselors, and confidantes.  In the midst of the controversy about arming teachers, libraries across the country are confronting the opioid epidemic and the implications of providing librarians with an antidote to drug overdoses, and the training to administer life-saving measures.  A library director in upstate NY summed up the situation like this: “That’s what a library’s job is — to respond to the needs of the community …  [l]ater, they may need Shakespeare. But those are their needs right now.”

So, join me in celebrating National Library Week. Show your support by asking a librarian a question, borrowing a book, downloading music, magazines, and movies, taking a class, volunteering your time. And tell a friend.

In the words of author Neil Gaiman “Libraries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism.”

By Gitelle Seer, retired NYC law librarian and a seasonal resident in Tempe.Gitelle Seer photo


Additional Reading:

“From Crafting to Programming, Libraries are Branching Out From Books,” https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2018/03/03/crafting-programming-libraries-branching-out-books/359593002
“How Public Libraries Help Build Healthy Communities,” https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2017/03/30/how-public-libraries-help-build-healthy-communities
“Librarians Versus the NSA,” https://www.thenation.com/article/librarians-versus-nsa
“Libraries on the Front Lines,” ALA interview with Neil Gaiman [2011]
“Once It Was Overdue Books. Now Librarians Fight Overdoses,” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/nyregion/librarians-opioid-heroin-overdoses.html


About the header photo.

“The Kansas City Public Library hides the parking lot behind walls disguised as giant book spines.”  (Photograph: Alamy) “The most beautiful libraries in America – in pictures,” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2016/oct/06/most-beautiful-libraries-america-pictures