Last week, the Trump administration announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). If Congress does not pass sweeping immigration reform before then, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants will be at risk for deportation.
Trump’s decision — politics aside — struck fear and uncertainty into the hearts of hundreds of thousands of young people who know little of life outside the borders of this country. They might live in legal limbo, but DACA recipients are not strangers to Emory students, nor are they strangers to the United States. Brought to this country as minors, recipients grew up in the U.S., work here and fight in our military; one “dreamer” even died while helping victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“Providing a permanent legal solution for these individuals is both a moral imperative and a national necessity if our nation is to live up to the ideals we espouse,” states a Sept. 7 letter sent to Congress by 57 university presidents and chancellors, including University President Claire E. Sterk, urging legislators to act on immigration reform.
This is a hardline stance from Emory in support of DACA recipients. When the government fails to protect vulnerable individuals, private institutions have to decide between falling in line or resisting; in the coming months while these students’ futures hang in the balance, Emory can, and already is, doing more to help them.
The University reaffirmed its commitment to DACA students in an Aug. 31 email by highlighting its current policies towards them and its other undocumented students. Providing need-based financial aid, legal non-compliance and privacy rights, among other initiatives, are acts of humanity. At minimum, the measures allow undocumented students to continue studying at Emory. Hopefully, the University’s policies help to ease undocumented students’ uncertainty despite Trump’s efforts to do the opposite.
Six months is an eternity in our modern news cycle. As the time passes, we cannot forget that there are students at Emory whose time in the U.S. has been given an expiration date.
As citizens with political capital, we must support the voices of undocumented students who choose to speak out and pressure Congress to pass legislation that will wholeheartedly welcome these individuals into our country, where they belong — permanently.
To write to your congressman, go to https://www.contactingcongress.org/.
The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.