Phoenix High School Students Stage Walkout Over DACA

We knew it was coming. With President Trump’s phased repeal of DACA, we knew heads were going to explode. After all, there’s literally nothing Trump can do that won’t be labeled as hate, but this is special. After all, DACA impacts kids who were often brought here before they even formed memories of their countries of origin. Even many who normally oppose illegal immigrants look at these kids and believe it’s unfair to lump them in with those who willfully broke our laws to enter this country.

We didn’t have to wait long for the meltdown, either, as high school students in Phoenix, Ariz., staged a walkout over the repeal.

Michelle, a soft-spoken freshman with a brown ponytail and perfectly stenciled eyebrows, was eating lunch with her friends in the cafeteria of Phoenix’s South Mountain High School when she saw her classmates start filing out.

“Everybody was walking out, so we decided to join in,” she said. Though she typically doesn’t take part in protests, this one felt personal: She’s undocumented, and, until this morning, had less than a year to go before she became eligible to apply for temporary legal status under DACA. (Phoenix New Times is withholding her last name to protect her privacy.)

While some of her classmates exuberantly chanted, “Fuck Donald Trump!” and blasted music from speakers, Michelle hung back.

“It was really sad, because so many people got the chance to work and travel, but all of that is taken away from us because of one person,” she said. “I was planning to do it when I turned 15, but now I don’t know if I can.”

Michelle, who is originally from Mexico, wants eventually to attend college in the United States and become a therapist. She’s one of hundreds of high school students who walked out today in order to protest the White House’s decision to phase out DACA.

Michelle would do well to understand exactly what is going on, not the simplified version of what’s being spoon-fed to many of these kids.

Yes, Donald Trump is repealing DACA. However, he also gave Congress warning that he was going to do so, giving them a heads up that it will be on them to act.

See, the problem with DACA isn’t so much what it seeks to do — again, many people, including myself, don’t feel like these kids should be punished for the sins of their parents. The big problem with DACA is that it was created with the stroke of a pen rather than legislation, as it should have been. No, Congress wasn’t interested in working with Obama on this, but that doesn’t mean that creating a program like this by executive fiat is the way to handle it.

Now, Congress has to act. They have to because so few people actually seem to want to see kids sent back to countries they know nothing about, have no memories of, and in many cases have no allegiance to. Frankly, this presents an opportunity for congressional Democrats to show they’re willing to work with President Trump and the GOP to pass bipartisan legislation by acting on this very issue.

But will they? And, if they do, will Republicans be willing to return the favor?