Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
September 6, 2017
Dear Members of the Vassar Community,
I imagine that many of you are as deeply disturbed as I am by the announcement yesterday that the Administration plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. It is important to note that anyone whose DACA expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 has until October 5, 2017 to renew. For more information please see the attached community advisory or visit https://www.ilrc.org
The DACA program began in 2012, in part to address the congressional impasse on immigration reform, including congressional initiatives to protect undocumented young people like the federal DREAM Act. The DACA program covers between 600,000 and 800,000 young people in the United States who were brought to the country without documentation as children. DACA eligible young people have gone through rigorous screening to qualify for DACA; many have completed school, enrolled in colleges like Vassar, secured jobs, volunteered and contributed to their local communities, and pledged their allegiance to this country. Many have spent very little time in their countries of origin, often having no memory of living there, and all consider the United States their home. It is unthinkable that they would be required to leave the country.
Without action by Congress and agreement by the President in the next six months, the DACA-eligible members of our communities risk deportation. The dismantling of DACA is cruel, and we must do what we can to ensure that they are allowed to stay in their homes and communities here in the US.
I have already written to our elected representatives from New York to urge them to resolve the immigration status of DACA-eligible community members as quickly as possible in order to avoid further threats of deportation. During the coming days, I expect colleges and universities to make joint statements in support of resolving the DACA issue, and I plan on joining those statements.
Immigration policy and DACA in particular are of utmost importance to colleges and universities as we have students on our campuses who are affected, and we will be diligently watching the progress in Washington. As someone who has been in a university campus for more than two decades, I personally have known many students brought to the United States as children who do not qualify for legal permanent residency or citizenship. These students’ courageous pursuit of higher education has inspired me, and we all benefit from their presence in our communities. Their presence, their hard work, and their aspirations represent the ideals of both Vassar and the U.S. in general.
We will do all we can to support students and others members of the Vassar community who are affected by the plans to phase out DACA, or who have family members or friends who are affected. We will continue to be in consultation with legal counsel and will offer protection to the full extent allowed by law. Vassar will never disclose private information about our students, faculty, or staff to law enforcement officers unless presented with a warrant, subpoena, court order or other legal requirement, or with permission of the affected party. If you would like to talk with faculty further about DACA, Professors Erendira Rueda and Jaime Del Razo have offered their expertise.
As a college dedicated to equity and access, Vassar will defend the ability of young people to pursue their dreams. I ask for everyone who is part of the Vassar community to support these efforts.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604