On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration is rescinding a social program called DACA. This program is only one piece to the large issue of immigration in the United States, and has sparked a national conversation…
What is DACA?
By now most students have probably seen the signs sprinkled throughout Seegers Union and academic row defining DACA. But for those who have not, here is a quick refresher:
“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is social program that allows certain undocumented immigrants who moved to this country as minors to receive a renewable two year period of residency and eligibility for a work permit, with the acknowledgement that these students have largely been raised in the United States.”
These young immigrants are commonly referred to as “Dreamers.”
The DACA program has helped an estimated 787,580 undocumented immigrants become legal citizens of the United States.
Most of the Dreamers were brought to the United States with their parents. In order to be eligible, Dreamers need to have arrived in the United States before they have turned 16 and have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. They also cannot have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy. Most of the Dreamers are from Mexico but there are also many who have come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Simply, the DACA program “shields” young immigrants from immediate deportation from the United States.
DACA does not grant immediate citizenship to Dreamers. Instead, the program has created a pathway for Dreamers to enroll in college, legally secure jobs and acquire driver’s licenses. Dreamers also pay income taxes.
What happened on September 5? What is happening to DACA?
As of this moment the DACA program has been stopped. There is also a current six month window for Congress to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study or live in the United States.
Why is this happening? Where did this come from?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a long time opposer of the DACA program. Ending DACA was also a promise left over from Drumpf’s presidential campaign, but like many other aspects of Drumpf’s policies, there is little consistency in his message. President Drumpf has previously stated he had “great love” for Dreamers. Many have even argued that Drumpf was advocating for the legality of the DACA program by sending it back to Congress. Whatever the rationale, the suspension of DACA does not and should not come as a galloping surprise.
What does this mean for the Muhlenberg Campus?
Both Dean Gulati and President Williams sent out responses to the Muhlenberg community last week voicing opposition to the Drumpf administration’s decision to suspend the program.
“Students at many schools including Muhlenberg are directly impacted by this announcement about the DACA program. And in fact, it impacts all of us here because Dreamer students are vital members of our student community who bring talent, intellect, compassion and character to our institution,” said Gulati on the effects of DACA on ‘Berg’s campus. Gulati continued on by saying – “The college, and I as the Dean, will continue to support these students to the fullest and will do whatever we are able to protect their ability to live and learn on our campus.”
What can the Muhlenberg Community do in our school, city, and national communities?
Being informed and staying civically engaged is a primary way for students to be involved in political issues on both a local and national level. President Williams urges the student body, and community at large, to “get to know one another, across the differences that can sometimes keep us apart.” President Williams went on to say that “our nation is so divided now, even as we are growing more and more diverse.”
“One of the things that excites me most is when I see members of our Muhlenberg community supporting one another and others (e.g., people in the greater Allentown community) and learning from one another in a united way; united across differences such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion and others,” said Williams. “We continue to have work to do in this area, and we all play a part in forging ever stronger bonds.”
While these political decisions are being made on a national level and can seemingly feel distant and far off, they are affecting communities everywhere, including Muhlenberg.
Further information on DACA and its effects can be found here: