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:
  2. Join us on Slack – Don’t know how? Or even what Slack is? Contact Alison Porter: or Melissa Megna:
  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: or Melissa Megna:
  5. Canvass for Mitzi Epstein: And for Jennifer Jermaine: And for LaDawn Stuben:
  6. Drive Sean Bowie to meet the voters. Contact Dr. Janie Hydrick: or Sean Bowie:
  7. Join our Social Media & Communications Team (SMAC)! Slack channel for info on upcoming meetings. Contact Susie Thornton: or Kate Tice:
  8. Lend us your voice and write a blog for our web page. Blog topics: Environment, Education, Healthcare, & Equality. Contact Laurie Nerat:
  9. Like planning events? Helping at events? Our Event Team needs your support! Kevin Walsh:
  10. Join the Welcome Committee – meet our members and help at the meetings. Melissa Megna:
  11. Community service projects? Follow Dems Give Back on Facebook for details. Rebecca Hinton:
  12. Monthly meeting setup. Arrive early and help unload vehicles, move tables, put out flyers, etc. Contact Dr. Janie Hydrick:
  13. Do you like taking videos? Volunteer to help with videography at meetings:
  14. Get trained! PC training. Van training. Details: Alison Porter: or Melissa Megna:
  15. Join our Fundraising Team. We want your ideas and support! Contact Kevin Walsh:
  16. Are you trained and ready to speak out on Request to Speak? If not, talk to Cathy Sigmon:
  17. Work with the SOS team to save public education. Alison Porter:
  18. Data entry/tech stuff, clean up our contact database. Susie Thornton:


2018 Environmental Challenges and Opportunities

By Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter

This year promises to be filled with challenges and opportunities. A key priority for Sierra Club will and must be to prevent environmental backsliding at both the federal and state level and to keep the state from further limiting the actions of local government relative to environmental protection.

Arizona is very lucky to have a multitude of public lands, roughly 28 million acres. These lands include six national forests, three national parks, eighteen national monuments, and nine wildlife refuges, as well as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Our public lands provide important wildlife habitat, protect our watersheds, and give us ample opportunities for recreation, including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and more. They are important to our $20 billion tourism economy as well. Arizonans love our public lands, but unfortunately many in our congressional delegation and at the Arizona Legislature do not.

That is why we will be working overtime in 2018 to stop efforts to privatize or weaken protections for these lands, including preventing actions to remove national monument protections, efforts to rescind a ban on uranium mining on lands surrounding Grand Canyon and other actions to remove or weaken special designations and protective management.

Water is also a key priority this year and every year. We want to ensure that environmental flows are protected in our rivers and streams and prevent further weakening of the limited laws that keep water flowing and limit groundwater pumping. We also want to ensure that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality does not weaken standards for surface water quality and that there continues to be strong protections for Outstanding Arizona Waters such as Fossil Creek, Davidson Canyon, and more.

Arizona must be a part of the timely transition from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to address climate change and put our state and our country on track. In fact, Arizona should be a leader. In 2018, there will be opportunities to promote clean energy as part of the utility resource plans at the Arizona Corporation Commission, in legislation, and possibly via a ballot measure. We will be working hard throughout the year to put the clean energy train back on track in our state.

Keeping the Endangered Species Act intact at the federal level and promoting stronger protections and recovery for species such as the Mexican gray wolf is also a top priority. We will be working to prevent Senator Flake from advancing legislation to erect roadblocks to wolf recovery and seeking to stop the multitude of bills aimed at weakening the Endangered Species Act, a key lifeline for many plants and animals. Also, relative to wildlife, Sierra Club strongly supports the proposed ballot measure to limit trophy hunting of mountain lions, bobcats, and other wild cat species. A lot of signatures are needed between now and July to ensure that it is on the ballot for the general election. We will be part of that effort.

Sierra Club and our partners are focused on keeping the Trump administration from erecting more walls along our southern border with Mexico and promoting more humane and rational borderlands policies. We must not let these hateful and environmentally destructive policies advance in 2018.

Our work to support tribal nations and protect Oak Flat, the Santa Ritas, and other sacred and sensitive areas threatened by ill-conceived mining projects will also continue in 2018. There will be environmental reviews and litigation and a concerted effort to protect these lands from foreign mining giants.

As if all of that were not enough, we are extremely concerned about backsliding on air quality for our state. Lately, Phoenix has experienced some of the worst air quality of the year. Rather than take additional measures to ensure that we all have healthy air to breathe, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is supporting two bills sponsored by Senator Flake that will weaken the Clean Air Act and allow for more exemptions related to “exceptional events,” which frequently means the regular drought conditions we experience. Our lungs are not “exceptional” and should be protected from pollution as mandated by the health-based standards of the Clean Air Act.

That is a lot for 2018 and there will likely be more as well. We are up for the challenges and know that you are too. Our air, water, lands, wildlife, and certainly our health, are too important not to double down on our opposition to bad policies and the politicians who promote them.

Take action to support Clean Energy!

Keep the Grand Canyon uranium mining ban in place!

Sign up to participate in Environmental Day at the Arizona Capitol on February 7. or you can use this shorter bitly link

Sign up for Sierra Club weekly legislative updates!


Sandy Bahr is the Chapter Director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter, and advocate for clean air, clean water, clean energy, our beautiful land, and its wildlife.