Colleges Pledge to Protect DACA Students After Program Repealed

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces DACA will be phased out in six months and urges Congress to legislate a replacement program.
Published: September 6, 2017

Colleges across the country are speaking out in support of undocumented immigrant students who could be affected when DACA comes to an end.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) will be phased out after six months. President Trump urged Congress to legislate a replacement before then, reports the New York Times.

“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” says President Trump of the decision to repeal the program.

The program was created during President Obama’s administration to protect young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally from deportation. DACA currently affects approximately 800,000 young adults who were given the opportunity to either work or attend school.

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President Obama called the decision wrong, cruel and self-defeating.

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

President Trump says his decision was driven by his concern for “the millions of American victimized by this unfair system.” Sessions mirrored his concern, saying that DACA has “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Colleges Aim to Protect DACA Students

Dozens of colleges across the country have slammed the White House’s decision to phase out DACA, with many reassuring DACA students that they will be protected on campus.

The University of Pennsylvania, President Trump’s alma mater, condemned the president’s decision in a statement put forth by President Amy Gutmann, reports CNN.

“President Trump’s decision to repeal the DACA program threatens hundreds of thousands of young people who were raised in America, love this country and are an integral part of the American Dream,” says Gutmann.

Penn was declared a “sanctuary campus” in November 2016, meaning agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are not allowed on campus without a warrant.

Harvard University officials perpetuated Penn’s concerns, albeit not a sanctuary campus.

“The University does not voluntarily share information on the immigration status of undocumented community members, and federal officials attempting to enforce immigration laws on campus are required to obtain a judicial warrant,” reads a statement from the Boston school.

Maria Blanco, head of the University of California’s Immigrant Legal Services Center, is urging her students to stay calm, according to the L.A. Times.

Blanco says a major lobbying campaign will push Congress to extend DACA.

“We have a very good shot at legislation in Congress and making that happen right away,” says Blanco. “Students shouldn’t do anything like quit school or their jobs. If you have DACA rights now, you still have them today. That’s the most important thing.”

The University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce released a statement on Tuesday, ensuring DACA recipients that the decision to revoke the program will not affect financial aid provided by the university.

“Legislation to uphold the state’s commitment to providing financial aid to DACA students is expected to be introduced in the next state legislative session,” reads the statement.

Leaders at five California universities joined together to urge Congress to extend DACA and the protection it affords to undocumented immigrant students, reports the L.A. Times.

“We are deeply disappointed by President Trump’s callous and misguided decision to effectively end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” reads a letter written to the California Congressional Delegation from University of California President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy White, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

“This is a step backward for our nation — a nation built by immigrants. It unnecessarily punishes hundreds of thousands of bright young people who were brought to this country as children and are contributing members of American society. America is their home and today’s action will not only derail futures, but it will deprive California and the nation of the promise and potential DACA participants possess,” the letter continues.

In another letter written to majority and minority leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Napolitano insisted bipartisan action, emphasizing that each recipient has undergone background checks to ensure they are not a security risk. Each current recipient has also completed a high school level education and has not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Teach for America Shows Its Support for DACA Employees, Graduates

Teach for America, a program that recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income communities, would be greatly affected by the removal of DACA.

Across the nation, TFA has employed 198 teachers who were protected under DACA. Of those 198 teachers, 95 are currently corps members and 93 continued to teach once they left the program.

In Los Angeles alone, 16 of the current 230 teachers who are currently enrolled in the TFA-LA program are DACA recipients.

“We decided to recruit Dreamers when it became apparent to us that we had undocumented students in many of our classrooms,” says TFA managing director Kathryn Phillips. “A teacher is often the first adult an undocumented student will ask for help. Any teacher can help, but teachers that share the life experience of being undocumented — and have navigated the education system as an undocumented student — can be an additional inspiration or role model.”

Who Will the Repeal of DACA Affect and When?

Aside from the current 800,000 students protected under DACA, a report from USA Today College indicates there are 2.1 million potential DACA recipients living in the United States today.

California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York have the largest populations of these potential DACA beneficiaries.

The report also says that every year, 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school and 10,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from college.

Officials say DACA recipients whose legal status expires on or before March 5, 2018, are able to renew their two-year period of legal status as long as they apply by October 5. However, if Congress does not create a replacement program, DACA recipients could face deportation as early as March 6, 2018

If a person’s DACA protection expires March 6, 2018, or later and they have not submitted a renewal application, they are subject to deportation on March 6, 2018, according to CBS News.

The government will review first-time DACA applications it received prior to yesterday’s announcement but will not accept any new DACA applications.

Between August and December of this year, it is estimated that 201,678 people’s DACA protections are set to expire. Of those people, 55,258 currently have pending requests for renewal.

Officials say that in 2018, more than 275,000 are set to expire while 300,000 are set to expire in 2019.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) says that in order for Congress to create a replacement for the DACA program, President Trump has to be specific in what he would be willing to sign, reports the New York Times.

“It is important that the White House clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign,” says Rubio. “We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won’t sign.”


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