President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to terminate President Obama’s immigration initiatives, including an executive action that allows thousands of immigrants to attend college in the United States. Now, college presidents are fighting back with a statement calling for the continuation (and expansion) of that program, The Washington Post reports.
In 2012, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security launched an initiative called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before turning 16 to stay in the United States for at least two years legally, obtain work permits, and enroll in college. In the immigration plans published on his website, Trump says he will “immediately terminate” Obama’s two executive amnesties: DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Trump goes so far as to call these actions “unconstitutional.” Because the undocumented immigrants registered with the Obama Administration in order to receive DACA benefits, the Trump Administration will have access to all of their personal information, including biometrics. What it does with that information is yet to be determined.
According to Inside Higher Ed, 94 college presidents from across the country have signed an open letter asking Trump to reconsider his stance on deportation, and highlights the contributions of DACA students at their schools. Signatories include Harvard president Drew Faust, Yale president Peter Salovey, and Williams College president Adam Falk.
The statement, which was organized by Pomona College President David Oxtoby, reads: “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 nonprofit 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.”
The open letter arrives on the heels of another letter from university presidents to Trump urging him to condemn harassment by his supporters, as well as protests at campuses across the country to push their universities’ administrations to identify as “sanctuary campuses.” Reed College and Wesleyan University are the first to do so.
“America needs talent — and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community,” the statement says. “They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”