Keep on dreaming: Trump and Congress pledge to protect DACA under law

Democratic leaders on both sides of the political aisle agreed late last night to work with President Donald J. Trump in order to protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation – seven of whom attend the University of Rhode Island.  

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, originally created under an Executive Order signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012, protected nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation. The program allowed individuals to go to school and legally work and obtain driver’s licenses in this country by filing with the government every two years. Trump rescinded the program earlier this month, however, arguing that Obama did not have the constitutional power to create the program in the first place.

Whether or not the Executive Order was constitutional remains a topic of debate between experts in the field of law, but as of now no court ruling has been issued. The constitutionality of the program still remains one of the most pressing grievances from the right, however.  

Health studies major George Al-Amir said all laws regarding immigration should be left up to congress. “It’s unsustainable,” Al-Amir said in reference to the program.

The URI College Republicans also made a similar statement when The Good 5 Cent Cigar reached out to them for comment.

“Regardless of opinion on content of the program, the way DACA was implemented by President Obama was done so unconstitutionally,” they wrote. “We are glad that President Trump has decided to hand this task over to Congress so it can be completed through the legal, constitutional process. We hope Congress works quickly and efficiently to draft a fair and rational solution.”

While Congress works to create legislation to protect DACA recipients, also known as dreamers, the Trump Administration ensures that no one’s DACA status will be revoked before it expires. If Congress cannot agree on a legislation within the next six month, a large percentage of DACA recipients could be left without protection.

In the meantime, URI Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Naomi R. Thompson is advising students to “keep calm and carry on.”

“I think that sometimes these students who listen to the news and hear these reports might have an inclination to panic,” Thompson said. “Our advice is don’t panic. Talk to someone. Don’t make any immediate, rash decisions. Follow through and seek the services we have here at this institution.”

For current students with DACA status or those who plan to apply to the university, Enrollment Services strongly recommends that students not become discouraged, according to Thompson.  Thompson said Enrollment Services is willing to help students in any way they can, from helping DACA recipients located outside scholarship applications, to fielding questions about billing, advising or class scheduling.

“The folks in Enrollment Services also encourage that they keep pursuing their education,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Division of Student Affairs Vice President Kathy Collins recommended that students take full advantage of the same services provided to any other student, such as counseling and health services to manage stress, or reaching out to the Multicultural Center or advisors for a support network.

Collins said the university staff will continue to monitor the situation to best decide where and how to provide support.

“We have staff that have been involved in discussions about this, as we have throughout the year since DACA has been a moment of conversation,” Collins said. “We also have staff would are communicating with students who could be impacted by an changes.”

President David M. Dooley stated the university’s disappointment in the decision to end DACA earlier this month, advocating for the importance of diversity.

“If our graduates are to succeed and lead in the 21st century world, with its wide diversity of cultures, lifestyles, beliefs, religions, political systems and philosophies, we must help them develop the ability to communicate, understand and engage productively with people very different from themselves,” Dooley wrote.

While only a small number of individuals may be directly affected, many students protested the original the decision to rescind DACA.

Students from URI Democrats, voicing their opposition rescinding DACA, joined protests in Providence last Friday. URI Democrats President Andy Boardman had said the original decision was “both cowardly and cruel,” and that Dreamers are “American in every way but their citizenship status.”

“I’m glad to see President Trump working with Congressional Democrats to end the uncertainty he created by abruptly rescinding DACA,” Boardman said in reference to last night anouncement. “I hope Congressional Republicans who previously voted down the Dream Act will come to the table this time.”