Defend DACA and Protect Immigrant Youth

UPDATE: On Tuesday, 9/5, the President announced his plan to end DACA and endanger the education and well-being of 800,000 young people.  Advocates for Youth denounces this decision.  We are committed to the health and safety of all young people, and the President should be as well. This shameful decision will not deter Advocates for Youth board, staff, and youth activists from working to ensure the reproductive and sexual health and rights of all young people regardless of citizenship status.As a nation, we must find the moral clarity to end attacks on immigrants.


Every week brings a new outrage against those who would come here to build a new life. Last week alone saw the detention of a young mother with legal immigration status; the pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio whose horrific outrages against the human rights of immigrants gave him nationwide notoriety; and the announcement that border checkpoints would remain in operation during Hurricane Harvey, leaving the undocumented with the choice between risking their lives, and potential deportation.

Conditions in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention centers are prison-like, with lack of medical treatment, contaminated food, and sexual assault all common. ICE has detained twice the number of immigrants this year as in 2017 as ICE exploits the most vulnerable – including detaining a woman when she reported domestic violence. Sanctuary cities have been threatened with loss of federal funding.

This week, the outrages continue as states pressure the administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which shielded 800,000 young people brought to the United States as children from deportation.


DACA has made it possible for thousands of young people to pursue higher education and employment without fear. Its repeal places not just these youth, but since they are now registered with identifying information, their entire families, at risk.

Justice for immigrants is crucial to the work of Advocates for Youth. A young person who fears deportation is unlikely to seek the health care they need or report sexual assault or other victimization or violence. A young person living in a country which discriminates on the basis of race and religion is unlikely to receive culturally reflective sex education. And a young person living in a hate-filled environment cannot reach their full potential.

We must stand with young people as they work to ensure immigrants are treated with respect and prevent violations of their rights. We must resist the violent and hate-filled war on immigration this President, this Administration, this Congress, and far too many other leaders are perpetuating. We must locate our own humanity and do everything we can to protect young people.

Advocates’ staff, Board of Directors, and youth activists stand together in supporting immigrant youth:

“We see you. We hear you. We lift our lamps to fight for you. You will not walk this line alone.” Mariah Johnson, 21, Young Women of Color Leadership Council

“As a child of immigrants and a first-generation college graduate, I am committed to confronting white supremacy and fighting for justice and dignity for all immigrant youth and their families. Years ago, I fought to create the DACA program and I will fight just as hard to defend it, and the young people it impacts.” Diana Rhodes, Advocates for Youth Staff

“Advocates for Youth condemns this administration’s immoral attacks that stigmatize and terrify immigrant youth and their families. Regardless of documentation, immigrant youth deserve to live in the country of their choice with dignity and respect and should be afforded all of the opportunities necessary to help them realize their potential and their dreams.” Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

“As a young Hispanic American I am horrified by what’s happening to the immigrant youth that are trying to make a better life for themselves in my fantastic country. I stand with any immigrant who is in search for success in our country and I will fight hard for them. Advocates is with you all.”  Dolly, YouthResource

“I want to thank AFY’s bold youth advocates who put their bodies and hearts on the line every day to protect what should be a basic human right – the right to live in peace in whatever land you choose to call home, free from fear and intimidation, regardless of where your birth certificate originated.” Carly Manes, Advocates for Youth Board Member

“An attack on DACA is an attack on all young people. And this generation is the loudest, strongest, biggest, and most diverse generation this country has ever seen…and we don’t forget. Undocumented young people are with us and we are with them and I know I don’t plan on backing down anytime soon.” Amber Phillips, Advocates for Youth Staff

“My grandparents and parents left our home in Puerto Rico to pursue better opportunities for our family, as have millions of others. I stand #WithDreamers and all immigrants, today and every day. #DefendDACA”  Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, Advocates for Youth Staff

“Our Constitution demands life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people and as such, it is time that our government starts working for the success of immigrants and immigrant youth instead of their failure and demise.” Hana, 17, Muslim Youth Leadership Council

“Immigrant youth are the backbone of this country. What President Trump is doing is deplorable, violent, and discriminatory. And we will not stop fighting until immigrant youth are fully seen and uplifted.”  Preston Mitchum, Advocates for Youth Staff

“Many of my friends are immigrants and they have influenced my life in ways that you can’t even imagine. I’m forever grateful for them.”   – Deja, 1 in 3 Campaign

“As someone who lives 10 miles from the border of the Rio Grande Valley, I am surrounded by undocumented folks – these people are my family and friends. It really hurts seeing what’s going on right now with DACA, but we WILL overcome.” Nina, 21, Student Organizing Team

“Immigrant youth are the catalysts of hope and opportunity that the American Dream can truly exist no matter who you are. Stripping them of DACA will destroy that catalyst of hope and harm the true inspirations of America.”  Alan, 16, Student Organizing Team

“To all immigrants out there, I see you, love you, and support you! You’re not alone, and we will support and love you!”  Kaitlyn, 21, 1 in 3 Campaign

“I immigrated with my family to the U.S at 16. I can’t imagine what would have happened to me if my family had been split up just because of some hateful policy. Immigrants deserve to live in dignity and safety. #not1more”  – Urooj Arshad, Advocates for Youth staff

“We must protect DACA—immigrant young people deserve education, jobs and opportunity free from fear of deportation or separation from their families.”  – Nicole Cheetham, Advocates for Youth staff

“It is essential that our nation rises up to show the respect and compassion that our immigrant community deserves. No one is illegal, we support you!” Caroline Corbett, 18, International Youth Leadership Council

“Everyone deserves to be here and pursue an education no matter their background.” Emad, 17, Muslim Youth Leadership Council

“Have hope. This country may be losing its way but we need to stand and be strong together.” Jasmine, Youth Activist

“These ignorant people will not stand in the way of your future.” Jules, 22, Alabama

“Young people are the future. Protect them at all cost.” Sindhu, 21, Arizona

“Young immigrants have always been a part of the fabric of my everyday life as my peers and as my students — but they have also been my teachers in every way. In bravery, in perseverance, and in strategy, because that is what put government’s laws and policies and threats often demand. As a board member of Advocates for Youth, I stand with young immigrants, who are essential leaders in the movement and members of our country’s tapestry. I believe in the intentional defense of their rights to education and care in every way, including the reproductive health care and sexual health education they are often systemically denied.” Kirin Gupta, Advocates for Youth Board Member

“From childhood we learned the powerful open armed greeting on the Statue of Liberty. The promise of home. The promise of the ability to breathe free. Yet thousands of young people live in fear, anxious that they will be removed from the only home they’ve ever known.  This sweet land of liberty cannot, should not, must not terrify young people. Only when they are safe, not living in fear, can they grow, thrive and learn. DACA makes that possible. It is essential that the protections it provides continue to support and nurture our youngest, most vulnerable, immigrant young people.” Deborah Arrindell, Advocates for Youth Board Member

“Migrants are determined, resourceful and resilient-exactly the qualities that drive economies and build communities. We have been tested in the furnace of affliction, and proved our mettle; why do governments see us as a burden, not an asset?” Shereen El Feki, Advocates for Youth Board Member

“Do not lose hope. The brilliance, importance, and struggle of this movement and each young person will not be ended just like that. We will support you.” Khadija Khan, Advocates for Youth Staff