Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn joined other Universities in asking U.S. to uphold DACA

Last week, the Trump administration announced their decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, affecting the lives of thousands of college-aged students.

DACA was an executive action during the Obama administration that protected the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to apply for a work permit. Last year, President Jay Gouge and 695 presidents and leaders of other learning institutions signed a statement written by Pomona College in support of DACA. 

The statement outlines how the colleges and universities who signed it have seen the positive effects of DACA since its advent in 2012. It refers to DACA beneficiaries as “exemplary student scholars and student leaders,” mentions the opportunities these students have been able to pursue because of the program and commends them for actively contributing to the local communities and economies of the schools.

“To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case," the conclusion of the statement reads. "This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

These sentiments are shared by members of Auburn University. 

“[DACA] was adopted to protect these children – who are now, many of them, young adults – and make sure that they aren’t punished because of nothing that they did wrong,” said professor Paul Harris, associate director of the Honors College. “Their parents crossed the border illegally when these people were children, babies, infants.”

Harris is a political science professor here at the University and has written extensively on the subject of immigration in the United States.

He believes the U.S. has always had two minds about immigrants: one seeing the country as a refuge, accepting and recruiting immigrants to build the nation and its economy, and the other embracing protectionism, expressing apprehension over the capacity of the culture and economy to absorb newcomers.

“The Trump administration’s repeal of DACA is a clear manifestation of this type of isolationist, populist protectionism which is reminiscent of the political zeitgeist of the 1920s,” Harris said.

As a scholar of immigration, Harris feels that the decision to rescind DACA was a poor one because of how it disadvantages the young adults, commonly referred to as Dreamers, who were raised in the United States.

“Many of them had no idea that they were undocumented until, say, they went to go apply for a driver’s license or a social security card and couldn’t,” Harris said. “Many of these dreamers are in college or in the service or contributing positively to this country and they’re being punished.”

According to a report from The Washington Post, DACA recipients who have permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 -- the date of DACA’s termination -- can reapply for a permit before October 5, giving them another two years of legal working status.

Those with permits that expire after then, however, lose their legal status as early as March 6 of next year. According to the same report, about 24 percent of DACA recipients – 190,000 people – will be able to renew. The rest, about 595,000, will lose their legal status.

“If I were one of these students I would look for allies, continue to mount a public campaign and make sure people understand that this is not the America we want,” Harris said. “This is not where we are, this is the 21st century.”

Harris believes that the reason America is having these issues is because of a lack of serious immigration law for over 20 years.

“What needs to happen is that Congress now needs to step up and adopt a comprehensive immigration reform or else we are just going to have statute after statute; ultimately the solution has to be bipartisan,” Harris said. “I believe there is a possibility to move forward so that these dreamers can continue to live the American dream.”

Share and discuss “Auburn joined other Universities in asking U.S. to uphold DACA” on social media.