President Trump may not move on DACA — what does that mean for campus leaders?
- The deadline for President Trump to act on the demands of 10 states for a roll back of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is imminent, and speculation thus far is the president will not yield to the demands before the September 5 mark, reports Brookings.
- Twenty-one states already have policies, either through the legislature or public campus system, which extend in-state tuition to undocumented students, including three which are part of the crop threatening to sue the president if he doesn't rescind the Obama-era policy.
- DACA students comprise a relatively small percentage of students on campus, suggesting that while any policy one way or the other could have broad implications for access to higher ed, there's little local impact to be felt by individual campuses.
Following the election of President Trump, several higher ed leaders expressed fear over his policies around DACA and immigration in general as one of their biggest concerns looking ahead. At a roundtable meeting hosted by the TIAA Institute in New York in November, Trinity University President Patricia McGuire expressed concern for her students, whom she said were terrified. She said the most important thing she could do as leader of the institution was to reassure them that she would do everything she could do to protect them and help them complete their educations. Some leaders, like Wesleyan University's Michael Roth, declared their campuses safe havens — sanctuaries — and promised not to turn over any information which could lead to deportation. But most were reluctant to declare sanctuary, and Congress even threatened retaliatory action at one point.
So far, however, President Trump seems disinterested in planting a flag in the sand on this issue, seeking instead a full look at the DREAM Act as a way to address undocumented students.
The preeminent concern for all campus leaders is to focus on the needs of the students entrusted to their campuses. Making sure information is available and accessible — this includes providing materials in multiple languages so students and families for who English is not a first language can still obtain the information — is key. Administrators should know these students may be reticent to complete the FAFSA or other federal forms which may "out" them as undocumented, and campus staff should work with these prospective and current students to complete forms critical to their enrollment.
Once these students arrive on campus, it is critical for campuses to have mechanisms in place to continue to support them. University of Richmond President Ronald Crutcher said during a March convening by ACE, “once you recruit them, you’ve got to have an environment for them to thrive.”
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