President Trump announced on Sept. 5, 2017 that he planned to rescind DACA, a policy initiated by former President Obama in 2012, permitting many young immigrants to work in the United States without obtaining citizenship. The “deferred action” included in the name refers to the two-year guarantee that DACA recipients will not experience active deportation measures. As of Sept. 14, Trump has altered his statement and has declared that he plans to protect the DREAMers–minors with deferred deportation and the ability to get a work permit thanks to DACA–and increase border security.
However, Trump is not necessarily protecting DREAMers as he claims to be because new applications are no longer being accepted, as of Sept 5, 2017. Previously, once their two-year contract ran out, applicants were able to re-apply.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said, “Former recipients are able to retain their period of deferred action and employment authorization document until they expire, unless terminated or revoked.” Furthermore, if applicants’ DACA expires before March 5, 2018, they must file a renewal request before Oct. 5, 2017.
In response to this frightening piece of news, DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence has created a Diversity Website with updates on DACA, resources for members of the community and provided free events. One such event was in partnership with different organizations like the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition where attorneys were available to inform individuals of their rights in the face of threats to their lives in the U.S.
Chancellor Chopp, in response, has issued a statement, renouncing Trump’s measures, claiming support for DACA and the DREAMers affected, which reads, “To reiterate, the University of Denver will do everything within its power to support all of our students. The University abides by all federal, state and local laws, which offer many protections to our students.”
However, not all students feel as if DU truly does support them as much as administrators endlessly assure. One such student, Fryda Faugier Ferreira, a senior studying Spanish, socio-legal studies and international studies from Mexico City, Mexico, cannot help but feel ignored and as if DU is not making the effort necessary to truly and entirely support DREAMers here on campus.
“Right now, we [the team working on gathering resources and funds]are working on setting up an emergency fund to help with the costs for schooling and emergency housing because, come March, if nothing is done by the president or Congress, then those under DACA will lose the ability to work which, for most of us, means losing our ability to pay for school.”
Faugier Ferreira, similar to many like her, even those not as actively involved in combatting the restrictions, believes that the first step is to officially declare DU as a sanctuary campus, which, in a statement made by Chancellor Chopp on Jan.12, 2017, was denied.
Despite the lack of title, the Chancellor said, “DU Campus Safety never has and will not assist ICE, CBP, USCIS or Denver Police Department in efforts to identify and deport undocumented community members.”
Although DU will not be officially named a sanctuary campus, the Chancellor’s statement seems to claim that DU will act in a way that a sanctuary campus would without the official title.
Faugier Ferreira said, “It’s the significance behind the fact that DU, despite being a traditionally white institution, is living up to its word on being inclusive and that it wants student like me on this campus and that it’s committed to helping us.”
Sadly, many in opposition of DACA think that DREAMers are undeserving, but Faugier Ferreira said, “We’re not here to take anything from anyone. We are here to get educated, to have careers so that the sacrifice our parents made would be worth it. All we want is to live our dreams and be able to have the lives our parents should have had but couldn’t.”
Although Trump has altered his statement on DACA, it must be noted that he initially was in favor of its rescindment. This unpredictability, understandably, worries many DREAMers because of the fear that he very well may change his mind yet again. It still seems entirely unreal that administrators of a university, individuals capable of making significant change, remain passive and seemingly indifferent to the fact that President Trump’s volatility is manipulative and a great source of fear for many DACA students. DU administrators need to prove that they truly support all of DU’s students, especially those in such a vulnerable position against a fickle presidential administration. It is not enough to promise to act as a safe space. The importance of the formal title of “sanctuary campus” lies within the realm of recognition and confirmation. The least DU administrators can do is recognize DREAMers’ struggles and validate their importance as students and cherished community members. DU ultimately needs to be a school where young students regardless of origin are completely safe, where they can be ensured sanctuary.