WSNA statement in support of DACA

The following state­ment can be attrib­uted to Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion Execu­tive Director Sally Watkins, Ph.D., RN.

Across our country, nearly 800,000 young people have just been given notice that they may no longer be welcome in the only country most of them have ever called home. 

These are young people who are furthering their educa­tion, serving our country and giving back to their commu­ni­ties. Here in Washington state, many nursing students and working nurses are training and caring for patients thanks to their DACA status. We value what these students and nurses contribute to creating better health outcomes for everyone. The research on this is clear: Patients tend to receive better quality care when health profes­sionals mirror the ethnic, racial and linguistic backgrounds of their patients. 

One of our members, Jessica Esparza, RN, completed her nursing educa­tion and works as a regis­tered nurse at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee thanks to the DACA program. As a bilin­gual nurse with strong roots in the commu­nity, Jessica is often called on to trans­late and advocate for the patients she sees in the medical oncology unit and throughout the hospital, deliv­ering cultur­ally sensi­tive, patient-centered care. Recently, she was asked by a physi­cian to talk to a Spanish-speaking patient about their cancer diagnosis. 

Of the prospect of DACA ending she said: ​“When I heard about it I was very frustrated, because I’ve been working for two years and helping my commu­nity. If I don’t have a work permit, I can’t work as a nurse anymore. I’m hoping something better will come out of this.” 

Stories like this are a powerful testa­ment to the benefits of DACA, and of the urgency with which Congress should act to retain these impor­tant protec­tions for our colleagues and members of our communities. 

We support the Western Washington chapter of the National Associ­a­tion of Hispanic Nurses (WW-NAHN), whose Board of Direc­tors, made the following statement: 

We at WW-NAHN wish to reaffirm our unwavering commit­ment to supporting DACA students every­where. Locally, we will continue to offer our inclu­sive schol­ar­ship, mentoring, networking oppor­tu­ni­ties and profes­sional devel­op­ment goal setting. Nation­wide the invalu­able contri­bu­tions made by DACA students are recog­nized and respected by at least 600 College Presi­dents, and we at WW-NAHN echo that senti­ment with a call to action for all nursing academic settings and nursing organi­za­tions to educate themselves on what it means to be a DACA recip­ient, and how these students contribute to diver­sity in the nursing profes­sion, and in addressing health disparities. 

The require­ments of the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) program are strict: young people receiving DACA protec­tions must have passed a background check, paid a $495 fee, and must currently be in school, serving in our military or contributing as part of our workforce. 

We join the American Nurses Associ­a­tion in calling on Congress to work together to find a compas­sionate, bipar­tisan solution that respects the humanity of every individual affected by the President’s recent decision to rescind the execu­tive action for those with DACA status.