High School Students Stage Walkouts to Support DACA Program

By Megan Ruge — November 08, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

High school students from across the nation walked out of schools Friday in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The walkout, which saw about 4,600 participants nationwide, was organized for young immigrants and allies to have their voices heard ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the program on Nov. 12, with demonstrations in the District of Columbia, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, and Arizona, as well. The Supreme Court is slated to decide the legality of the Trump administration’s efforts to end the program, which has provided more than 700,000 undocumented young people who came to the United States before age 16 with relief from deportation and the chance to pursue education and work.

In 2017, President Trump attempted to end the DACA program and put a stop to new applications, although the new outline of the program said that existing recipients of DACA were able to keep their protection and would be able to renew. And individuals had to be age 15 or older in order to apply. Students who were too young at the time to apply are currently being barred from submitting new applications, which is one of the driving factors prompting high school students to take to the streets last week.

In Washington, D.C., protesters of all ages walked to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to express support for DACA. United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led group in the country, noted that there were about 725 students gathered at the Supreme Court.

“It was a mix of students who had DACA, a mix of students who didn’t have DACA, and there are students who were American citizens,” said Jose Muñoz, the national communications manager of United We Dream. Ana Cruz, a high school student from the District of Columbia who has a parent who is the beneficiary of temporary protected status, helped to organize the walkout among her fellow students and spoke to the crowd about her parents’ past and her hopes for the future of immigration.

Ahead of the protest, principals in Washington had sent a district-written letter to their school communities expressing respect for students to exercise their First Amendment rights.

The missive notes, however, that the walkout is not a district-sanctioned event and will not be automatically counted as an excused absence. The choice to demonstrate is “a family decision,” the letter states, and excused absences will go only to those students who submit a parent note within five days.

“Education isn’t just about academics; it’s about helping our students develop as entire people,” the letter states, calling on parents to encourage their students to speak to teachers and administrators regarding these topics so they can engage their students in “constructive ways.”

In Oklahoma City, where about half of the school population is of Hispanic background, about 500 students participated in the walkout. In keeping with a public pledge to support students’ rights “to advocate for causes that are important to them,” the Oklahoma City schools allowed students to be excused from their second-hour of instruction, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 am, to participate in the walkout. Students met in front of their schools and held signs and banners that read “home is here” among other things. Three city schools took part—Southeast High School, U.S. Grant High School, and Capitol Hill High School. Though the protests were adult-supervised, the district said that they were largely student-led.

Image: United We Dream members pose for a photo with DACA recipient and United We Dream California organizer Gabriela Cruz, far left, at a gathering Friday in Santa Cruz, California. (United We Dream)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP