DACA: A COA Response to Attorney General Sessions

To the COA Community:

Today (September 5, 2017) at 11:02am Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the podium and announced that the Trump Administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era rule giving temporary legal immigration status to people who arrived in the US without documentation as children. The program affects nearly one million people, including hundreds of thousands of college and university students across our country.

At College of the Atlantic, we firmly believe that all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, or gender orientation, should have equal access to education, employment, safety, and opportunity. DACA was one step in creating a pathway to this equality, and by dismantling it, this administration signals its disregard for the well-being of our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, and our peers. For many of these immigrants, the United States is the only country they have ever known. The protections afforded by DACA have given them dignity and the ability to fully pursue the American dream.

COA is committed to making education open and accessible to anyone who wants to pursue learning. As has been our policy, we will continue to accept applications from undocumented and DACA students, and treat them as domestic students in the application process. In addition, we remain committed to maintaining the privacy of all student records, including undocumented students. We will continue to show unwavering support for any of our students affected by this decision. We will also continue to engage with a large and growing number of colleges and universities across the country and with our own legislators here in Maine to address this issue head-on in the halls of Congress.

As a member of The Council of Independent Colleges and the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU), College of the Atlantic supported an Aug. 29 letter to President Trump in support of DACA, with a call for Congress to take action to protect DACA students. NAICU pointed out in an email to members today that for individuals who want to preserve DACA, the most effective step would be to urge one’s elected officials in Congress to take swift action to provide permanent protections to DACA participants. NAICU provided a link here to search for representatives and their contact information.

The rescinding of DACA protections is unfortunately in line with an administration that in my view has not worked to condemn bigotry, xenophobia, racism, and intolerance, even in light of several recent, highly publicized, violent expressions of these sentiments. At College of the Atlantic, we stand firmly for tolerance, inclusion, acceptance, and equality. These tenets of social justice are exactly what DACA is about. We must work to ensure that the legislative solution the Attorney General spoke about this morning does not jeopardize the collective future of the many young people who arrived on our shores and ports with their parents. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how best we can counter this situation.




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