Paley Library hosted the panel event, “Creating a Welcoming Campus Community in 2017,” on Wednesday to support students affected by President Donald Trump’s plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.
DACA was created in 2012 under former President Barack Obama to offer protections to the children of immigrants who entered the United States illegally. DACA protects participants, also known as Dreamers, from being deported and allows them to receive a work permit as long as they meet certain requirements.
The library event was organized by Paley librarian Rebecca Lloyd and media studies and production professor Larisa Mann. The two also worked to create an event last spring about offering sanctuary spaces and protection for undocumented immigrants.
Wednesday’s panel event was part of a series of programs called Beyond the Page, which includes exhibitions, concerts, workshops and other community-centered events.
Mann spoke on the panel, along with Jennifer Lee, an immigration law professor at the Beasley School of Law; Tiffenia Archie, assistant vice president at the Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership office; Jessica Sandberg, director of International Admissions; Adan Mairena, pastor at West Kensington Ministry and Juan, a Dreamer and junior at the Tyler School of Art, who did not want his last name published.
The panelists discussed what the university is doing to make itself more inclusive for international students and those protected by DACA. For instance, Sandberg created a video to go along with the hashtag #YouAreWelcomeHere, which she said is meant to send a worldwide message about the university’s inclusivity. Her video started trending and other universities joined in.
“I felt very strongly that this was something that not only Temple could create in terms of a message to international students, both current and prospective,” Sandberg said, “but also that it had the possibility of becoming a national message.”
The panelists also talked about what they think needs to be improved at the university — like DACA students paying out-of-state tuition, despite the fact many have lived in Pennsylvania most of their lives.
“You can’t even wholeheartedly devote yourself to your education, because you’re just trying to pay last semester’s tuition,” Juan, who has lived in Pennsylvania for 14 years, said.
Mann also read a statement written by a DACA participant and former student named Leslie, who had to leave Temple because she couldn’t afford out-of-state tuition.
“I’ve never gone to school in Mexico,” she wrote. “I have a Pennsylvania driver’s license and I pay state taxes. My own father has been paying state taxes as well for over 16 years. Why is it that I can drive, work and pay Pennsylvania state taxes, but I cannot attend a Pennsylvania state school as an in-state student?”
Another main concern discussed by the panel members was how the university can protect undocumented students.
“There was a movement to try to see if we could get Temple declared as a sanctuary campus,” Lee said. “It didn’t really happen.”
A sanctuary campus is a college or university that protects undocumented students from deportation, so that they can focus on their education.
One of the handouts available at the program gave students information about the rights they have in case they are confronted by a federal enforcement officer. The handout reads, “All persons, including noncitizens have rights.” It also explained that undocumented immigrants have the right to refuse being searched on the street, to deny access to their homes without a warrant and to remain silent at any time.
Archie said IDEAL will continue to organize educational arrangements like tabling to spread awareness about DACA.
“It’s important that this isn’t just the culminating thing,” Juan added. “This is a good launchpad, or starting off point, for going forward and new opportunities for people to educate themselves.”