In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, MTSU President Sidney McPhee released a statement in which he encouraged the administration to find a more permanent solution and stated his support for those effected by the decision.
The DACA program was first introduced in 2012 during the Obama administration without congressional approval, and it currently protects nearly one million undocumented immigrants who came to America as children. The program granted amnesty to these immigrants, often referred to as “Dreamers.” Individuals in the program receive protection from deportation and a work permit, both of which expire after two years and are subject for renewal. Per the 2012 memorandum, Dreamers had to meet a list of requirements, which included that they had come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday; were under age 31; had continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007; and were in school, graduated or had obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a General Educational Development certificate or were an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, which stated his avid disagreement with the way that DACA was established. The letter stated that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
After the letter was received, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke issued a memorandum that rescinded the 2012 memo that established DACA and set a plan in place that will phase out DACA. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security will be providing a limited window in which it will determine the approval of DACA requests and work authorization documents. The press release also states that pending DACA requests that were filed as of Tuesday, the day of the memorandum, will be judged on a case-by-case basis. All requests filed after the memorandum will not be approved, and the department will judge, on a case-by-case basis, the renewal of DACA benefits from current dreamers, whose benefits will expire in March of 2018.
On Thursday evening, McPhee sent out a signed statement, detailing his concerns and support for Dreamers that attend the university. The statement read:
“We are carefully watching as the federal government’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program begins to unfold. The initial announcements and news coverage have created considerable and understandable concern to both our own MTSU Dreamers as well as their friends, families, and supporters. I am writing to signal again our support for all of our students, but particularly today those who are scared and uncertain about the future because of this development. It is a fluid situation that we will continue to monitor. To our students in need of counseling or other services, please contact our MTSU Counseling Services, Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Center, or the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs … Meanwhile, we encourage our elected representatives and federal officials to search for a permanent solution, and to reach a conclusion in advance of the close of the six-month deferred-enforcement window that has been announced.”
As mentioned by McPhee, facets of the university such as the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs are available to provide resources to students, such as connection to campus counseling, academic support programs and educational partnerships. Vice President for Student Affairs Debra Sells stated that, while there is limited information regarding the fate of many Dreamers, the university is strongly encouraging students to reach out to offices and representatives on campus for encouragement and further support.
“We are still waiting for more developments,” Sells said. “We just don’t have good, solid information yet. Still, we know that the stage of ‘not knowing’ is in itself stressful and painful for both our Dreamers and their concerned friends … Just like in any other case where our students are experiencing a crisis or potential crisis, we want to reach out and offer our support as a community.”
“We want students to reach out to any of our faculty, staff or department resources with whom they feel comfortable–our counseling staff, our staff in the Intercultural and Diversity Affairs area, our MT One Stop financial aid and enrollment counselors, or their faculty, advisors and mentors,” Sells said. “Right now, we’ll be listening, offering encouragement, and directing students to resources as we identify them.”
For more information on DACA and the memorandum, visit here.
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