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Hamilton County Schools weigh in on DACA debate

A release says HCDE wants to reassure the community that the schools are a safe place for all students. (Images: HCDE Twitter / MGN)

The Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) weighed in on the national DACA debate Thursday afternoon.

A release says HCDE wants to reassure the community that the schools are a safe place for all students.

HCDE Board Chair Dr. Steve Highlander says, “We are concerned for all students and want to meet their needs where they are. We desire that every student regardless of their immigration status have an opportunity to be post-secondary ready.”

HCDE officials say they value diversity in the schools and wants all parents and students to feel welcome. They say they are following the immigration debate as it develops.

Highlander says the HCDE is not objecting to President Trump's actions. He tells us they are not pushing lawyers to take any action.

Highlander says the statement was made to "reassure children in the system that HCDE is there for them." However, it's not clear whether the HCDE has any authority to prevent anyone from being deported, should it come to that. It's also not clear how many, if any, students who have applied for DACA status.

Highlander says that students with DACA deferrals or their families have not contacted him, and he would not speak for other school officials.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, was established during President Obama's administration to protect young immigrants brought illegally into the States from being deported. It also gives them the ability to work legally in the U.S.

The current White House says the program is unconstitutional and intends to phase it out. As of September 5th, the government says it will stop processing new DACA applications. For some recipients who are up for renewal, they may apply before October 5th.

One local man, Carlos Rodriguez, says he owes everything to DACA after he was brought to the United States at the age of 12.

Several of Tennessee's top lawmakers have weighed in on the decision.

Depend on us to keep you posted as this story develops.

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