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drawing of a teary child thinking of herself graduating

Dreamers in Limbo

Washington gyrations feed anxiety on campus.

by Michael Betzold

From the October, 2017 issue

The first day of the new school year at the U-M was a nightmare for undocumented students: it was also the day that President Trump announced a six-month deadline to terminate President Obama's policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA had temporarily protected from deportation immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

"It was very disconcerting," says Alex, a third-year student who agreed to speak to the Observer if his full name was not used. "I was worried about what's going to happen to me--and to my brother and sister."

Like most colleges in Michigan, the U-M allows undocumented students to enroll, but they live in a "don't ask, don't tell" limbo. "Dreamers" don't want to reveal their lack of legal status, and administrators don't ask, presumably for fear that immigration officials might demand a list and use it to target people for deportation. But that also meant that the university had no way to reach those affected directly to offer support. Instead, says Alex, it spread the word through informal networks, including the Student Community of Progressive Empowerment organization (SCOPE).

Following Trump's announcement, spontaneous demonstrations sprung up on campus--as they did throughout the country--along with fundraisers to help Dreamers pay the $500 fee required to reregister for protected status during DACA's final months.

The uncertainty remained even as new, potentially more promising, developments continued to unfold in Washington, D.C. Asked at press time if he was more hopeful after Trump held discussions with congressional Democrats, Alex replied: "Yes--but not substantially to where I'm not worrying about my family's future every day."


from Calls & Letters, November 2017

The handwritten note was signed simply "K.," but we recognized the handwriting and style of our favorite editor-at-large, Kathleen Yagelo. "I am a language nut," she wrote, "and I don't like it when my favorite publication makes mistakes. The past tense of the verb 'spring' is not 'sprung.' It is 'sprang' ... 'sprung' is the past participle of

...continued below...

'spring' and must be accompanied by an auxiliary verb."

"I knew eventually I would be corrected by a clone of my former grade-school self," responded Michael Betzold. In an October Up Front, he'd written that "demonstrations sprung up on campus" after President Trump announced that he would end DACA, the program that had suspended deportation of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children.

"FWIW, I looked this up when it came through," deputy editor Jim Manheim chimed in on our email exchange. "Webster's lists [sprang and sprung] with an 'or,' meaning equally good, not with an 'also,' meaning one is preferred."

Yagelo strongly prefers sprang. "This error is made about 95% of the time," she wrote. "Please be part of the 5%."     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2017.]


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