President Trump’s decision to repeal the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) on Sept. 5 is being met with stark criticism by the public, higher education institutions throughout Washington state and our very own president, James Gaudino, who penned an open letter the same day denouncing the U.S. president’s actions and reiterating CWU as a campus which, first and foremost,promotes protection of its students as a state funded institution.
DACA is a federally funded immigration program that was initially established in 2009 with the assistance of the Obama Administration. The program aims at assisting children whose parents brought them to the U.S. without documentation while receiving workers permits. As of 2017, 800,000 students are enrolled in the DACA program.
“I am committed to stand up for our students, who are among the 800,000 nationwide registered under DACA. These young men and women are some of the finest and most resilient students at our colleges and universities, often exhibiting unique character forged by the fire of adversity,” Gaudino penned.
Gaudino went on to say that CWU and other state institutions have adopted several policies to protect students, regardless of their legal status here in the United States, and to reaffirm the role of Campus Police as a medium for enforcing campus laws, not federal laws.
“CWU police work for me, not for federal immigration officers. Enforcing federal immigration law is the responsibility of federal law enforcement agencies, not CWU police,” Gaudino said. “Additionally, CWU campus police do not question people about their immigration status.”
In his statement regarding his tweet stating the repeal of the DACA program, Trump said that “the temporary implementation of DACA by the Obama Administration, after Congress repeatedly rejected this amnesty-first approach, also helped spur a humanitarian crisis… in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country.”
“Therefore, in the best interest of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA.”
Dr. Kandee Cleary, the vice president for diversity and inclusivity on campus, has been coordinating with President Gaudino and his office since news of the DACA repeal became public in early September. According to Cleary, President Trump will allow the program to continue for another six months while congress aim to work with Trump to address the issues with the program.
At the end of this six month period, President Trump has stated that he will end the program. The impact of this postponement are not currently known, as the program will not be slated to be up for possible revision until mid-March of next year.
“‘What are going to be the consequences to our students,” Dr. Cleary said. “I mean, that’s really what the first reaction is. ‘What does this mean and what are the consequences?’”
According to Dr. Cleary, Washington state has provided two pieces of legislature that will currently protect funding for the 18,000 DACA students in state as well as DACA awareness and the WAFSA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) programs. Dr. Cleary also stated that some of the greatest complications with repealing DACA might be post graduation, as students who were once under enrolled might have difficulty working in the US.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, on Tuesday Sept. 5, that the State of Washington will threaten to sue the Trump Administration if President Trump fully goes through with his repeal of DACA in March of next year. Washington D.C. and 15 other states, such as New York and California, are planning to follow in Washington’s footsteps and file their own separate lawsuits against Trump if DACA is repealed.