In the wake of sweeping changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, stakeholders from across the U.S. have been making a collective effort to improve how colleges and universities address immigration-related matters affecting their campuses.
Adler University is no exception. A longtime champion of DACA, President Raymond Crossman, Ph.D., most recently joined more than two dozen distinguished higher education leaders to become part of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Group members stem from public and private universities and university systems, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. They represent hundreds of thousands of students, faculty, and staff across the nation.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration will support adoption of best practices on campuses, and work in a unified manner to communicate the need for federal and state policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented, and international students.
But what does that mean for you? Let’s cover some integral DACA facts as we continue crusading for participants through this year, and those that follow.
What is DACA?
- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal government program created in 2012 under President Barack Obama to allow people who are brought to the U.S. without documentation as children the temporary right to live, study and work in America.
- Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to postpone removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
- There is a thorough vetting process that, once complete, allowed “Dreamers” — those protected by DACA — to apply for necessities such as college enrollment, a driver’s license and a work permit.
- Under DACA, a pathway to citizenship is not provided. Participants’ rights must be approved every two years.
Who is Affected?
- Roughly 800,000 people throughout the U.S. are protected by DACA and Illinois is home to about 45,000 — the country’s fourth-largest DACA population, ranking No. 1 in the Midwest region.
- The majority of Dreamers hail from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They range in age from 15- to 36 years old. Due to many arriving as children, the repeal of DACA could mean deportation for the hundreds of thousands who have no recollection of living anywhere other than in the United States.
Important Dates to Know
- The Trump Administration is no longer accepting new DACA applications. Without congressional intervention in the form of a replacement program that offers protection, the status of existing Dreamers will begin to expire in March 2018 and will be terminated by March 2020.
- Individuals with work permits expiring between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 were allowed to apply for renewal by Oct. 5.
What Can You Do?
It isn’t too late to defend DACA. Here are a few ways to take action, crusade for social justice, and support equal opportunities for all:
1. Tell the White House: Leave a comment here to let the president know how much you disagree with his decision to end DACA. Huffington Post contributor, Pierre R. Berastaín, included the sample comment below in a September piece highlighting the issue. Once you’ve sent your thoughts, you can also call the White House directly and leave a voicemail. The phone number is 202-456-1111.
As an American citizen, I am appalled by your decision to terminate protections for 800,000 DACA beneficiaries who pay taxes, attend our colleges and universities, and contribute to our communities as doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers and business owners. Your decision could reduce the U.S. GDP by more than $400 billion over the next decade. I urge you to work with Congress to pass a legislative solution that will ensure the protection of those affected by your decision to terminate DACA.
2. Call Your Congressional Representative: Enter your zip code online to find your representative and his or her contact information. Then, call each and ask to speak with the person in charge of immigration policy. You can also leave a message. Berastaín suggested the following sample script:
My name is ____, and I am one of your constituents. I am calling to express my discontent with the White House’s decision to end DACA and ask Senator/Representative ______ to support legislative action that will protect immigrants affected by the termination of DACA. Eight hundred thousand lives are affected because of the president’s decision to end DACA, and now it is time for Congress to pass a law that would provide a pathway to citizenship for this group of immigrants. Does Senator/Representative _____ currently support the Dream Act or Hope Act?
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration’s founding statement, steering committee, founding presidents and members can be found online.
Sources: Walters, J. (2017, September 14) What is DACA And Who Are the Dreamers? Retrieved Sept. 27, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/04/donald-trump-what-is-daca-dreamers.