The Trump administration today made the official announcement that it is rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the policy that allows certain individuals who came to the United States as children to stay in the country and obtain temporary work permits.
Responding to multiple news reports over the Labor Day weekend that President Trump was about to end DACA, ACE President Ted Mitchell released a statement Monday afternoon urging members of Congress to swiftly approve legislation allowing our students, and all of those potentially affected, to maintain their current status. He noted that ending DACA, even with the six-month delay announced as part of the administration’s plan, throws the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people and their families into turmoil.
ACE sent a letter in March on behalf of 560 college and university presidents urging President Trump to keep DACA intact until a longer-term solution could be put in place. Last week, the Council sent another letter to the administration echoing that charge.
Now, ACE and the higher education community will focus on working with lawmakers to enact a permanent legislative solution. While there is widespread support for DACA recipients, the reality of how things work in Congress recently means this will likely be contentious and complicated and could take longer than it should.
It is important to keep in mind that since DACA is not codified by law or regulation, it could always be modified or rescinded at any time.
As The Washington Post reported, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer accept new DACA applications. Those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals as long as they do so by Oct. 5. New applications and renewal requests already received by DHS as of today will be reviewed and validated on a case-by-case basis, even those for permits that expire after March 5.
Knowing the value DACA youth provide to our communities, our institutions and our country, ACE disagrees with this action in the strongest possible terms, and is undertaking a variety of activities to help member institutions navigate what this means for their students enrolled in DACA.
First, ACE is currently working on sending a letter to members of Congress urging immediate legislative action. While there are several models Congress could decide to pursue, ACE and most of the higher education community have long supported the Dream Act and also support the BRIDGE Act, which Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced earlier this year. At a minimum, we are urging Congress to enact the current DACA provisions into statute.
ACE also has created talking points to help college and university presidents and other higher education leaders speak to members of Congress about this issue.
Second, ACE is also considering its potential legal options and the options available to member institutions and states, and will carefully monitor all litigation related to DACA.
Finally, ACE has begun an analysis of how we can best support undocumented students and their families in a potential post-DACA environment. The Council will soon publish an issue brief similar to the one released in December after President Trump’s election when uncertainties around DACA and sanctuary cities first arose.
College leaders know firsthand that the high-achieving young people in DACA contribute in many ways to our nation. Children brought to the United States at a young age did not have a choice in the matter. They have overcome enormous obstacles to become successful. It remains in America’s best interest to enable them to use their knowledge, skills and energy to make the strongest possible contribution to our country.