In 2012, President Barack Obama launched a called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. While the program does not grant citizenship, it affords protections from deportation to immigrants brought into the United States illegally as young children if they register with the federal government. On Tuesday, these undocumented individuals — commonly referred to as Dreamers — of an inhumane, short-sighted and potentially devastating rollback by the Trump administration. As early as March, some of the 800,000 Dreamers will become eligible for deportation.
It is hard to fathom why anyone with a sense of humanity would decide to end a program which has led to increased educational and job opportunities for young immigrants. According to a , DACA has significantly increased educational success for impacted students. Specifically, the survey reported that 92 percent of those in school had pursued educational opportunities they would otherwise not have been able to. It is an egregious breach of Dreamers' trust to have encouraged them to come out of the shadows and register with the government, only to pull the rug out from under them, leaving them subject to persecution and deportation.
Dreamers will not be the only ones affected by the DACA repeal. These young immigrants have long made invaluable academic, economic and social contributions to the University community. Without Dreamers, the University community and the country as a whole would be worse off. The strong wave of support which has reemerged for Dreamers on Grounds in recent days attests to this fact. In conjunction with this support, the University administration has assumed its moral obligation to do everything in its power to protect student Dreamers by offering them legal and emotional counsel.
While supporting Dreamers on Grounds is important, there are to the University’s ability to protect them. This responsibility now falls on Congress, which has six months to find a permanent legislative fix. However, Congress has repeatedly legislation to protect Dreamers in the past. Fortunately, 15 states (including Virginia) and the District of Columbia joined together on Wednesday to challenge the Trump administration's decision.
It is important to remember Dreamers came to the United States illegally through no fault of their own. It’s cruel to uproot them from the only home they’ve ever known, especially after they placed their trust in the federal government, hoping for a shot at the American Dream. In this time of uncertainty, it is imperative to come together as a community and continue defending Dreamers on Grounds.