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EDITORIAL: IU needs to keep promise to protect DACA recipients



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Last week, two Motel 6 establishments in Phoenix, Arizona, were accused of calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain undocumented guests, the Phoenix New Times reported. According to the Times, the motels were presumably responsible for 20 arrests made since February.

This incident is one of many deportation attempts of and threats against undocumented Americans. However, an irrational attempt to strip the legal rights of immigrants’ children is well under way.

As a public institution that claims to support all of its students, it is imperative that IU remain steadfast in its promise to protect the children of immigrants on this campus.

The past two weeks since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the forthcoming end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have been rough, to say the least.

To brief, DACA is a 2012 executive order by then-President Barack Obama that provides deportation protections and work permits to children of immigrants. The application process is intense and only those without a criminal record may apply. 

Since the program’s inception, beneficiaries — who are commonly referred to as DREAMers, referencing the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — have been able to make massive contributions to the American economy and society, while gaining the opportunity to build more stable lives and careers for themselves. Many DACA beneficiaries have gone to or are currently enrolled in a higher education program.

The nearly 800,000 beneficiaries are increasingly uncertain of their future in this country. In a somewhat foreseeable attempt, the Trump administration made public plans to end the program. Under this dismantling, DACA will end in March of next year if Congress fails to pass legislation protecting the program and its beneficiaries.

Congressional Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, attempted to strike a deal with the president, only to be told no such deal occurred by the White House press, according to Vox Media. Simultaneously, President Trump’s tweets make the future of the program unclear.

Almost nobody knows what’s happening with the crucial program that protects almost a million undocumented Americans. 

And any threat is immediate. When younger undocumented people came out of the shadows to receive DACA protections, they traded fingerprints and personal information for a chance to build a life in the United States. All of these are at President Trump’s disposal, and it’s unclear when and how he or ICE may use them. 

Will specific individuals be targeted, or will information be sent to ICE en masse? Will a mass deportation raid ensue once a Congressional bill gains traction?

In a statement by Provost Lauren Robel, the University announced that it will “support our DACA students in every practical and compassionate way we can within the bounds of the law.” The reassurances are much appreciated. 

However, the University should promise that no IU official will comply with ICE or any other deportation action until a court order has been issued. 

While we press Congress to pass legislation protecting DACA, universities and colleges must make clear that their number one priority is to ensure the safety and livelihood of all their students, regardless of citizenship status. This includes fostering more assurances like Robel's statement and keeping their promises to their students.

For students whose permits expire during the six-month period, DACA workshops for free help with application renewal or legal advice will be held in Bloomington and Indianapolis throughout the week. The deadline to renew an application is Oct. 5. More information can be found on the DACA @ IU website.

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