Dreamers & DACA: Information for Schools

As news reports about immigration continue to dominate the headlines, schools and individual educators can play an important role in helping to inform and support immigrant students and families during uncertain times.

Immigration policy affects a wide range of groups connected to K-12 schools and higher education, including students and their families, as well as staff.

For more information on supporting immigrant students and staff, see our guide, How to Support Immigrant Students and Families: Strategies for Schools and Early Childhood Programs.

Note: We have selected a range of resources providing useful information for schools and educators. While some of this material includes advocacy information, Colorín Colorado and our parent organization, public broadcasting station WETA-TV-FM, do not take political positions or participate in political advocacy. In addition, if your students or families are looking for legal advice, we strongly encourage you to collaborate with immigration attorneys or organizations who have the most updated information possible.

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour, 2017.

What is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy passed by President Barack Obama through executive action in 2012 focused on undocumented youth who have lived in the U.S. since childhood, often referred to as "Dreamers". DREAM Act legislation has been introduced multiple times to address their situation, but has not yet successfully made it through Congress. 

This summary from NPR provides a helpful overview:

DACA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program created in 2012 by the Obama administration allowing young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study, and obtain driver's licenses.

DACA applicants had to be younger than 31 years old when the program began. They also had to prove that they had lived in the United States continuously...and that they had arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.

Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. They have to be enrolled in high school or college, or serve in the military. Their status is renewable every two years.

You may see references to the young people who have applied for DACA as "DACAmented." DACA policy impacts a wide range of groups served by K-12 schools and higher education, including: students in high school, college, and graduate school; young professionals, including thousands of teachers working across the country; and children whose parents and older siblings may be affected.

Updates: For questions and updates related to DACA, see these news updates from NPR and this DACA resource guide from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Any families or staff with questions should consult with verified immigration lawyers (and determine that they are legitimate attorneys).

Meet Teachers with DACA


This program originally aired on the PBS NewsHour on 4/25/17.

DACA: FAQs and News

Mental Health Resources for Immigrant Students

Colorín Colorado: Educator Interviews

Featured Book: Teachers as Allies

Lori Dodson and Anne Marie Foerster Luu are co-editors of and contributors to Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching DREAMers & Undocumented Students (Teachers College Press, 2017). They each discuss some highlights from the book in the following clips of their interviews with Colorín  Colorado.

More Recommended Resources

Related News Headlines

Updates & analysis

DACA teachers

The long road to college for undocumented students

Related Books and Booklists for Kids/Teens

See books for students of all ages here: