LORAIN — School district CEO David Hardy Jr. penned an open letter to the Lorain community with a message about the Trump administration’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Hardy, head of a district where 40 percent of the community is Hispanic and Latino, made it clear in a message emailed and posted online Thursday that Lorain believes in “Dreamers,” as the program members often are called.
“This decision impacts hundreds of thousands of children and their families across our country and in our own Lorain community,” Hardy said. “Decisions like this one create a level of uncertainty, fear and injustice that not only makes life challenging for our families, but go against what our country is perceived to be founded upon — a promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Hardy, who comes to the district from the St. Louis Schools, said the rhetoric surrounding young immigrants is personally disturbing to him, but it was not until hearing El Centro de Servicios Sociales Executive Director Victor Leandry speak at a recent luncheon did he realize he had to be more urgent with his message to the community.
“That night I couldn’t sleep, and all I could think of were our kids and our families,” he said. “I was compelled to get it down on paper, and I still stand firmly behind every word and wish I could do more for our students and families.”
In his message, Hardy aimed to put a more personal face to the people often called Dreamers, a moniker based on the never-passed DREAM Act that would have provided similar protections for young immigrants.
“Dreamers include our young people who strive for excellence inside and outside of the classroom, colleagues who leave it all on the table to make our community and country better than it was the day before, and friends who contribute to our collective well-being,” he wrote. “Allowing this decision to drive the narrative for our country is not only divisive but destructive to the very fabric of our democracy.”
With such a diverse student population and community, Hardy said the district as a whole is addressing the national issue by just bringing all of their students closer to them.
“We all care so deeply about our kids,” Hardy said. “The smiles, hugs and high-fives are not insignificant.”
From his position, Hardy said he plans to take the story of his district to lawmakers in Columbus. Hardy said he has a scheduled meeting next month in the state’s Capitol.
“I can’t leave Columbus without talking about these issues and getting some clarity on what I can bring back to our community,” he said.
Hardy’s missive went out just one day after Lorain city leaders made passionate pleas to the Lorain County commissioners, urging them voice their own opposition.
On Wednesday, Lorain Council President Joel Arredondo and Joe Mendiola, president of the Lorain Immigration Rights Association, spoke about young students brought to this country from Mexico that attend local schools and feel that in “every way they are American, but they don’t have the papers to prove it.”
“It drives them back into the shadows of our society because now immigration (agencies) has their address, where they live, where they go to school, where they work, so they’re very, very vulnerable,” Mendiola said during the meeting.
Sacred Heart Chapel has provided a place for undocumented immigrants to meet, Mendiola said, but he doesn’t want the population to feel scared.
The commissioners ultimately elected to follow Oberlin’s lead in adopting a resolution in support of the 800,000 people, the Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as children with no sure path to citizenship.
Commissioner Matt Lundy called the repeal of DACA “cruel, inhumane and un-American.”
“This is not the America that we know,” Lundy said.
Hardy said if Lorain can be a reflection of a different America, he wants it to be one where all students feel welcome.
“I want our kids to understand their undeniable self-worth, their unlimited potential and just their ability to dream,” he said. “I don’t want legislation, I don’t want adults, I don’t want circumstance to determine their altitude. I want their altitude to lay with them. The world is theirs and it is our job to make sure they can take it.”
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