Some education leaders are promising to keep helping undocumented students even as President Trump is expected to announce an end to the five-year-old federal program that has granted hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” permission to stay in the United States without fear of being deported.
Trump is expected to tell the nation on Tuesday that he is phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, which began under former president Barack Obama and grants permission for nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to either work or go to school. Trump, this Washington Post story reported, is likely to delay the DACA program’s end for six months to give Congress time to replace it but it is unclear whether such legislation could pass.
At schools around the country, Dreamers are returning for the 2017-2018 year not knowing whether they will legally be allowed to finish the year out.
In recent months, some 640 college and university presidents have signed a statement urging federal authorities to maintain DACA — and some of them are sending new messages of support for the students. For example, Arizona State University President Michael Crow on Sunday released a missive saying that the state constitution requires his school to educate all Arizona students and that is what ASU will continue to do. It says:
Whatever decision the President makes regarding DACA, these are the basic principles that we have and will continue to follow.
We are committed to the success of all of our students and in particular our students from high schools in Arizona.
DACA students at ASU are young adults who have graduated from an Arizona high school who meet our admission requirements. We are mandated to educate all Arizona students at a cost as close to free as possible. We do this.
When the Arizona Constitution was ratified, there was no mandate to draw distinctions between students or to do anything other than please educate “all the children of the state.” At the time much of the state was made up of immigrants (of all classifications) and bi-nationals, Mexican Americans reflecting their new national home after the war between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, a close read of history, and the Arizona constitution, shows Arizona’s founders clearly intended that we just get everybody educated.
This is in fact what we intend to do. We are going to educate students from Arizona and in doing so we will follow the law, however that is expressed. We will at the same time, within the law, do everything we possibly can do to help young people move their lives forward — regardless of the circumstances that brought them to this country.
In California, the state with the most undocumented students enrolled in schools — more than 200,000 — education leaders prepared for Trump’s decision by creating rapid response teams, offering legal support and sending supportive messages to families, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Brian King, chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, issued a statement saying, “By working together, we can and will continue to ensure that our colleges are safe places for ALL students to pursue their dreams. Just like our efforts on emergency response preparedness, we may not know how and when a crisis will present itself for our students, but we have a responsibility to be ready for all potential scenarios.”
Tom Boasberg, superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, the first school district in the country to hire teachers under DACA, said in a statement that ending the program would be catastrophic for the city:
Our schools and our community are strengthened by our city’s rich diversity and open arms. The DACA program has helped bring wonderfully talented and critically needed teachers to our classrooms and has provided peace of mind and legal status to thousands of immigrant children and families who make our city and our schools great.
We at the Denver Public Schools stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these children and families; we join their call for respect and appreciation for the contributions they make to our community; and we join other cities across this great country in resolute opposition to any effort to curtail the DACA program that would cruelly rip the American Dream from their grasp.
The core mission of higher education is the advancement of knowledge, people, and society. As educational leaders, we are committed to upholding free inquiry and education in our colleges and universities, and to providing the opportunity for all our students to pursue their learning and life goals.
Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community. With DACA, our students and alumni have been able to pursue opportunities in business, education, high tech, and the non-profit sector; they have gone to medical school, law school, and graduate schools in numerous disciplines. They are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.
To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent — and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.
We call on our colleagues and other leaders across the business, civic, religious, and non-profit sectors to join with us in this urgent matter.