On Campus

Syracuse University professors commend DACA after President Donald Trump announces end to program

Sam Ogozalek | Asst. News Editor

Many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients are students or workers who pay income taxes. If Trump’s plan goes through, DACA recipients will begin to lose their rights to attend college and have jobs as soon as March 2018.

Following President Donald Trump’s controversial end to the previous administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, two Syracuse University professors commended the protection DACA offered to young, undocumented immigrants.

“My personal view is that (DACA) is a valuable and important policy that helps allow 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to come out of the shadows, complete their education and find jobs to contribute to the country and economy,” said Tom Keck, the university’s Michael O. Sawyer Chair of Constitutional Law and Politics.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that Trump ended the DACA program, which protected about 800,000 undocumented immigrants across the country from deportation.

Congress now has six months to take action to extend some DACA protections.

The program’s recipients represent about 1 million people who immigrated to the U.S. when they were under 16 years old. Many DACA recipients are students or workers who pay income taxes.

If Trump’s plan goes through, DACA recipients will begin to lose their rights to attend college and have jobs as soon as March 2018.

SU has a small number of students currently protected through DACA, which was established in 2012. In spring 2017, the university established an ad hoc committee on DACA and undocumented students.

“(The committee) thought of every angle from which potentially these students would be better served, as any student has a right to be served,” said Myrna García-Calderón, a member of the ad hoc committee and director of the Latino-Latin American Studies program in an email.

The committee was dissolved in May after it submitted a formal report to Chancellor Kent Syverud outlining recommendations on how to better integrate undocumented students and DACA recipients into the SU community, García-Calderón said.

The committee recommended new protocols to degree completion for undocumented students and ensured access to counseling resources or career advising. Syverud addressed the recommendations in an email to the SU community Tuesday.

“Syracuse University has continued to reiterate its support for our students who benefit from the program,” Syverud said in a campus-wide email on DACA.

The protocols aim to help undocumented students complete their degrees if they are deported or refused re-entry in the U.S., according to the Registrar.

All DACA recipients had to be under 31 years old in 2012 and had to pass a background check before receiving DACA protection.

DACA recipients also had to be in school or have a high school diploma.

“I personally saw this as a humanitarian decision, one that protected young immigrants from potential removal from this country, separation from their loved ones and their community and the opportunity to dream of a better future,” García-Calderón said.

Student counseling resources are available at the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Hendricks Chapel, among other campus locations.

Jennifer Gavilondo, associate general counsel at the Office of University Counsel, said she spoke to several undocumented and DACA seniors last semester. The students wanted to know what they could do after graduation and Gavilondo directed them to resources such as lawyers, she said.

“Undocumented students generally want to be assimilated and treated like any other student on campus,” Gavilondo said.

Keck sent an email on Tuesday to his students with links to counseling resources after DACA was rescinded even though he was not sure if any of his 115 students were protected under DACA.

“I think suspending it is potentially going to have a horrible, horrible impact on those 800,000 young Americans,” he said.

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