Denver superintendent, lawmakers ask Trump to protect undocumented students

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DENVER – Denver is taking steps to make its classrooms even more inclusive.

On Friday, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg signed a petition pledging support for undocumented students and staff covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy.

“To deport talented teachers and students in whom we have invested so much, who have so much to give back to our community and who are so much a part of our community would be a catastrophic loss,” Boasberg said.

More than 1,400 education leaders have also signed the petition, which was started in anticipation of President Donald Trump cracking down on illegal immigration.

“With the change of administrations, some think students, teachers and others could be subject to immediate deportation,” DPS said in a statement.

People covered by DACA are allowed to remain in the United States on a temporary basis. They must reapply for the DACA permit every two years.

People covered under DACA are given Social Security numbers, and can work, attend school, and buy homes. However, DACA does not provide a path to citizenship.

“I’m worried about tomorrow. I’m worried about five minutes from now,” undocumented college student Saul Mejia said. "We have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen and we feel scared.”

Mejia was born in Mexico and was brought to the United States when he was a toddler. He is a student at Colorado Community College and has a job as a bartender.

“I want the world to see that we’re not criminals. We’re not rapists,” he said.

Mejia grew up in the United States, but does not qualify for DACA because he returned to Mexico for two years as a teenager. Still, he believes the United States is his home.

“You take me back to Mexico, I don’t have a home,” he said. “I’m sure there is some opportunity for me in Mexico, but I grew up here. This is all I know.”

He is fighting to expand the program to include himself and others who fall in a gray area. And while he does not agree with Trump’s stances on immigration, he said he is happy Trump has brought issues for undocumented citizens to light.

“It does feel good. It feel good that people are standing up,” he said. “Now it’s the number one topic and now it’s something that we’re all discussing.”

Several Colorado state lawmakers are also taking this issue head on.

A group led by House Speaker Chrisanta Duran, D-Boulder, and Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, wrote a letter regarding DACA and sent it to Trump a day before his inauguration.

“As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted DACA to nearly 742,000 individuals, including approximately 20,000 Coloradans -- our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members. These recipients are valued members of our community -- to a threat to it,” they wrote.

The group not only encouraged Trump to keep DACA in place, but to expand the program.

“Due to the current fluctuations of power and previous presidential authorizations, the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform recommends all pertinent Federal laws be enforced," the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform said in a statement.

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