When President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled its plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections, people across the country took to the streets to protest.
But while Democratic leaders are attempting to make a deal with the president to keep it, several “Dreamers” — immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were children — have voiced their concerns of deportation in town hall sessions on Main Campus. But what is DACA, and how does it affect Temple?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
In 2012, former President Barack Obama’s administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to offer protections to Dreamers. Program participants receive deferred action from deportation, meaning they will not be deported while they fulfill certain requirements. They also receive a work permit that usually lasts two years, but can be renewed an unlimited number of times.
In order to qualify for DACA, individuals have to meet a number of requirements. They must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and must have arrived in the country before their 16th birthday.
Additionally, individuals need to have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007. They must also be enrolled in school, serve in the military or have graduated from a secondary American institution. Those who have committed a felony or a serious misdemeanor are not eligible for DACA.
About 800,000 people nationwide are protected by DACA, and about 5,900 of them live in Pennsylvania, according to a report by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The number of Temple students who are DACA recipients is unknown because the students self-report, said university spokesman Brandon Lausch.
On Sept. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would begin rescinding DACA in March 2018, giving Congress a six-month window to save the immigration policy. No new applications will be accepted during this time. Current DACA recipients have until Oct. 5 to renew their applications.
Dreamers could face deportation after their DACA status runs out. According to the Trump administration’s release, by March 5, 2020, all DACA authorizations will have expired.
Democratic minority leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi met with Trump last week to keep DACA intact. After the meeting, attendees reported they had struck a deal to protect Dreamers if accompanied by a “massive” border security upgrade. The deal did not include funding for a border wall.
Deportation is still possible for DACA recipients because Congress has not yet acted.
The university has not yet released the number of Temple students affected by DACA, but President Richard Englert sent a statement to the university community last week reiterating the university’s stance on the program.
“We are committed to doing all we can to assist our students to achieve their dreams,” Englert wrote in an email sent on Sept. 12. “As a public university, we provide a high-quality education to all of our students, and we will continue to provide this support in the context of all local, state and federal laws.”
Englert also outlined how the university has supported the program in the past. He cited Temple as being one of 700 colleges and universities whose presidents signed a statement of support for DACA. He also pointed to Temple’s support for the work of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Council on Education to make DACA protections permanent.
Englert referred students affected by the rescission of DACA to Tuttleman Counseling Services, the Dean of Students Office and the office of International Student and Scholar Services.
‘I’ve seen PEOPLE crying about the repeal’
After the Trump administration announced its plans to rescind DACA, several student organizations held meetings to discuss the topic.
Temple Student Government hosted a town hall on Sept. 13, when faculty and students, including some Dreamers, shared their thoughts and concerns about the Trump administration’s decision on DACA.
One Temple student and DACA recipient said during the town hall he was scared for his future, among other fears. The student did not share his name at the event.
“The main reason we are having this town hall is to talk to students and everyone here in this community to figure out what the best steps will be moving forward,” Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes said.
“All of these students greatly contribute to Temple University’s diversity and if we are going to say that we are diverse, then we must be inclusive,” he added. “That means supporting those students in whatever way possible that secures them being able to be here.”
Temple Political Science Society also held a meeting regarding DACA, where students debated the DACA ruling. Some were in favor of removing the policy, while others voiced their concerns.
Freshman political science major Tylir Fowler, who attended the meeting, said he felt the decision to end DACA would divide the Temple community.
“It will cause a wedge in opinions between people who keep up with politics and news,” he said.
Fletcher Chmara-Huff, a geography and urban studies professor who lived in Arizona, said he knows several people who didn’t know they came to the country illegally because they were so young at the time.
“For some students, this provides an immediate sense of terror for them,” Chmara-Huff said. “I’ve seen people crying about the repeal of DACA.”
Chmara-Huff also said times like these call for compassion among students.
“It’s a chance to sit with these people who are suffering and learn how to be compassionate to them and to think about how you want to act,” he added. “These are challenging times. I think young people actually have the energy to rise to the challenge.”