For 50 years, Huckleberry Youth Programs’ legacy has been to provide youth in San Francisco and Marin with programming focused on safety, health, justice, and educational opportunities. From its beginnings, opening the first runaway shelter in the nation, Huckleberry has been an accepting beacon to diverse youth. All are welcome regardless of status — Huckleberry is a safe place. For five decades, our belief in inclusion has created programming that provides a sense of hope young people have not found elsewhere in their lives.
On Tuesday, September 5, the feelings of hope and safety were significantly diminished for many of our young people. The Trump Administration terminated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy protecting young immigrants who entered the country as minors from deportation, requesting congress create a solution. Nearly 800,000 young people in the U.S. will be affected by the decision, including 200,000 in California.
Huckleberry youth, particularly those in the Huckleberry Wellness Academies (HWA), are deeply troubled by this decision. HWA prepares first-generation college students for post-secondary education and careers. One hundred percent of the youth in HWA graduated from high school last year and 100% of participants are currently enrolled in college. A large number of HWA students are Dreamers.
Dreamers at Huckleberry have been “hit hard” by this decision. They are struggling with the notion of being deported to countries unfamiliar to them. They are working hard to finance increasingly expensive college tuition, along with a $500 DACA work permit renewal fee, leaving them frightened and financially insecure. These students, who should be focused on obtaining a college degree and joining the workforce, are now facing an uncertain future.
At Huckleberry Youth Programs, we believe all young people deserve the chance to realize their full potential. A stronger community comes from including all voices, all types, all ideas, all people in the process. Huckleberry supports legislation that will allow all youth to thrive regardless of their status.
Douglas Styles, PsyD., Executive Director