Trump's executive decision rescinds DACA program

Program to prevent deportation, provide educational opportunity to those living in the U.S. without legal permission to end in March

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.56.41 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump will be phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

Courtesy CBSN via YouTube | Cavalier Daily

President Donald Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The provisions, established under the term of former President Barack Obama, were designed to prevent the deportation of and provide educational opportunities to those living in the United States without legal permission whose families brought them to the United States when they were children. A number of students currently enrolled at the University are protected by DACA.

After a series of recent reports indicating that Trump would be phasing out the program, Attorney General Jeff Sessions broke the silence Sept. 5, providing the administration’s first official remarks since the speculation began. In a prepared speech, Sessions emphasized the importance of the rule of law.

“We are people of compassion, and we are people of law, but there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws," he said, referring to DACA as an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

While the program faces termination, Congress possesses a six-month window to pass bills aimed at immigration reform. Following Sessions’ statement, Trump urged the legislative branch to prepare accordingly.

“Congress, get ready to do your job — DACA!” he tweeted.

In an email sent to the University community, University President Teresa Sullivan expressed criticism toward DACA’s discontinuation.

“The decision to end the DACA program could damage the diversity and vibrancy of our community and undermine the global leadership of America’s colleges and universities,” she wrote.

The University Democrats also expressed criticism towards the program repeal and support for students who could be affected by DACA’s discontinuation. 

“One thing that is talked about here a lot … Is how we can have a well-rounded class at our University that has a number of experiences, whether that be income diversity or diversity of skin color, and this would greatly deteriorate that,” Virginia Chambers, second-year College student and University Democrats Communications Coordinator, said. “I think also it would signal that America is not welcoming of a place as we argue that it is, and it’s going to show that some privileges people will never be able to accomplish because it’s been taken away by the federal government.”

The College Republicans do not have a stance on the issue, because the organization seeks to focus on policy areas where the Republican Party is in agreement, third-year College student and College Republicans Chairman Adam Kimelman said. 

“With that said, my personal opinion is that this is not the best decision by the president,” Kimelman said. “People who would be affected by this, who would be deported now — nobody wants that, including the president, which he said. At the same time, DACA was just kind of a temporary fix while Congress fixed the legal immigration process.”

Both organization representatives indicated their plans to work toward a legislative solution in the coming months.

“We are working harder than ever to elect Ralph Northam, and the Democrats involved, because the entire state has shown strongly in favor of DACA,” Chambers said. “We want to make sure that everyone who is in Virginia politics can do whatever we can, and we want to make sure we have every mechanism in place to provide for and to be in solidarity with the students who are affected.”

Kimelman expressed the College Republicans’ hope to promote legislation to transition out of DACA in the wake of its rescindment. 

“We’re going to be working to make sure that Congress actually comes up with legislation, because it seems like that was the intent of the president rescinding DACA — so that Congress could step in to provide comprehensive immersion reform,” Kimelman said. “It will not be good if DACA is fully rescinded and there is no legislation to transition out of it, and that’s where we’ll be focusing.”

In Virginia alone, there are 12,000 DACA recipients — approximately 1,200 of them are in public colleges and universities — and over 10,500 are contributing members of the labor force, Deena Sharuk, Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center attorney, said. Their absence is going to cost over $700 million in lost GDP in Virginia alone, Sharuk said.

“DACA recipients are brought to this country as children — they’re our classmates, our colleagues, our service members, they’ve established their lives here and often have little or no connection to their country of origin,” Sharuk said. “There’s an inherent cruelty to the fact that our government fought to protect them five short years ago, and today, our government is setting domestic policy to make them vulnerable to deportation.”

Sharuk outlined attorneys’ plans in the wake of the program rescindment, expressing that the goals of the Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center include continuing to advocate for the rights of DACA clients, educating the community about the rights of DACA recipients and helping DACA clients obtain legal status whenever possible. 

Additionally, she stressed the immediate need for DACA recipients whose work permits expire in the next six months to submit renewal application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services before Oct. 5 in order to buy time before DACA expires. 

“Something else important for people at large, besides getting the word out about DACA [application] renewal, is calling your representatives and expressing what it is DACA is for all of us, not just the DREAMers,” Sharuk said. “These are our colleagues, classmates, servicemen and women, and it affects us one way or another when we eliminate these opportunities for them.”

“The overturn of DACA means that our friends and peers at this University lose the security and promise of being able to pursue an education at this school,” Kirandeep Gill, third-year College student and DREAMers Public Relations Chair, said. “It means that their futures they have worked so hard to earn could be ripped away from them at any moment. It is on us to come together as a community and prevent this from happening.”

DREAMers on Grounds, an organization providing resources to undocumented students and allies, will host an event Sept. 6 to show solidarity with undocumented students.

“We ask everyone to join us and show DREAMers and their families that we stand by them and will continue to protect them,” Gill said.

The event will take place on the steps of Garrett Hall at 12:50 p.m. Wednesday.

related stories