Wichita superintendent, on DACA decision: ‘This is not right’

Wichita superintendent Alicia Thompson on Thursday spoke out against a decision to end the federal DACA program.
Wichita superintendent Alicia Thompson on Thursday spoke out against a decision to end the federal DACA program. File photo

A decision to end a federal program shielding young people brought to the United States illegally from deportation has “upended the lives” of some Wichita students, Wichita superintendent Alicia Thompson said Thursday.

“My heart breaks as I’ve heard stories of frustration, sorrow, tears and despair from students who last week were focused on college and career preparation, and this week are concerned about personal safety and uncertain futures,” Thompson said in a statement posted on the district’s website Thursday.

“This is not right, and we must do better for all of our students!”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative that shielded young undocumented immigrants from deportation, was being rescinded. There will be a six-month “wind-down period” to give Congress time to take action if it chooses to do so, Sessions said.

Roughly 12,500 DACA recipients live in Kansas.

District officials have not said how many Wichita students potentially could be affected by the decision. It’s common for high school college and career counselors to help students navigate the DACA application process.

Thompson, the superintendent, said diversity in language, cultures and backgrounds “makes our district special.” Because of that, “Wichita students receive an education far beyond the curriculum in their classrooms, and our community is better and stronger because of it.”

“The decision to dissolve DACA in no way changes the Wichita Public Schools’ commitment to all students. We will continue to provide a high-quality educational experience in a safe and supportive school environment where all students, staff and community members are treated with dignity and respect,” the statement said.

“To our students I say this: We stand by all of you. Regardless of where you were born, what your family circumstance is, how much money your parents make or where you live, you belong as members of the beautiful school community that I am proud to lead. We value you, and will continue to serve and support you as you dream of a future full of opportunity and success.”

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias