The Trump administration on Tuesday announced that it will wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows certain young, undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. Congress now has a six-month window to find a solution for the 800,000 so-called “Dreamers.”
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in a statement called the move to end DACA a “deeply disturbing development” and added that “protecting DACA and Dreamer students remains a top priority for AACC.” The association also issued a call to action, urging people to contact their representatives now to “voice your strong objection to the ending of the DACA program and urge them to find an immediate legislative solution such as the DREAM Act to prevent the lives of so many Americans from being so harmfully impacted.”
At community colleges, which serve a diverse student body, including immigrants, leaders reacted to this news.
“We know that these are scary and uncertain times for those students, but I want to assure them that repealing DACA should not have an impact on DREAMERs in Texas,” Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Chancellor Joe May said in a statement.
Ten years before DACA, Texas passed the Noriega Bill, which — while not an immigration bill — provides in-state tuition to certain non-immigrant and undocumented students who meet certain guidelines.
“DCCCD stands ready to help students attend college under the Noriega Bill, which is state law, whether or not DACA continues,” May said. “We have a strong history of supporting our students and their educational goals and dreams.”
In Massachusetts, presidents of the state’s community colleges, as well as the superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, signed a joint statement.
“Ending DACA and subjecting these individuals to deportation not only contradicts our shared values and the inherent principles in our educational missions, but threatens the economic well-being of our region, state, and country,” the statement reads.
Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges and six public four-year colleges and universities, along with The Council of Presidents, Independent Colleges of Washington, and the Washington Student Achievement Council, also issued a joint statement in response to the announcement that DACA will be rescinded.
“This lamentable decision to end DACA threatens to rob us of hundreds of thousands of gifted, hardworking, and dedicated young people who are American in every way but their immigration status,” the statement says.
Community College of Denver President Everette J. Freeman had a message for Dreamers: “I want you to know that CCD remains an open access college that welcomes all in our community who have a desire to learn.” The message also linked to immigration and mental health resources for students in Colorado.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said that ending DACA “is a heartless and senseless decision that goes against American ideals and basic human decency.”
“In California, we don’t put dreams — or Dreamers — on hold,” he added, also promising that the state’s community colleges would continue to serve all students, regardless of their immigration status.
One of the state’s colleges, Chabot College, held a peaceful show of support for immigrant and undocumented students on Sept. 5. President Susan Sperling joined faculty, staff and students at the event.
“We are pledged to resist efforts to curtail your right to respect, dignity, and to your education,” Sperling said in a message on the college’s website.
The San Diego Community College District is taking action by holding legal workshops to help DACA students learn about their rights and seek legal protection. College leaders also say they will begin advocating immediately to the members of Congress to pass the DREAM Act and put in place a replacement program for DACA.
In a notice on the SDCCD website, college officials also promises that, as part of its compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, federal immigration officials will not be allowed on campus absent legal authority, and they will not act on behalf of federal agencies to enforce immigration laws or aid in deportation.
Several prominent Republican lawmakers have indicated they are willing to deal on DACA, per this CC Daily article. AACC will remain on top of the issue.