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Continued Support for Undocumented Students

May 3, 2018

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Recently, we have seen encouraging rulings from the federal courts in regard to the DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. However, the lack of certainty about DACA’s future means that we need to continue planning for students’ safety, security and ability to continue their education without interruption.

Earlier this year, judges in San Francisco and New York issued injunctions reinstating DACA recipients’ right to renew their enrollment in the program. A few weeks ago, in a case brought by Princeton University and others, for which Smith signed a friend-of-the-court brief, a Washington, D.C., judge ruled that the Trump administration must reinstate DACA. If the D.C. court’s ruling stands after 90 days, the federal government will be compelled to accept DACA renewals as well as new DACA applications.

While observers are cautiously optimistic about these developments, the DACA program is still at risk. To that end, I want to highlight two recent initiatives:

  • Undocumented Students Working Group Earlier this spring, in coordination with the student group OUSR (Organizing for Undocumented Students’ Rights), we formalized our day-to-day support for undocumented students by convening a working group co-chaired by Audrey Smith, vice president for enrollment, and David Carreon Bradley, vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity. The other members of the working group are Julie Ohotnicky, dean of students; Josh Miller, professor of social work; Michelle Joffroy, associate professor of Spanish; Michael Ireland, associate director of Student Financial Services; and two student members. An OUSR member will attend the working group meetings on a rotating basis. The group met once this semester and will meet regularly next fall to ensure that we are actively anticipating issues that might prevent undocumented students from participating fully in the Smith experience.
  • Dreamer Supporters In late March, with funding from an Innovation Challenge grant, 25 Smith students participated in a two-day training to become Dreamer Supporters. The training, organized by the School for Social Work, OUSR and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, prepared the students to serve as resources for students and departments, at Smith and at area colleges, in navigating the challenges faced by undocumented college students. In addition, the trained students are now prepared to train others to help undocumented students feel secure and supported. I am grateful to Professor Joshua Miller and the experts he convened to make this opportunity possible.

I want to reiterate and reaffirm the college’s commitment to protecting and supporting all members of our community. As we have said from the beginning, Smith will

  • Take no voluntary action that would put members of our community at risk because of their citizenship or immigration status.
  • Resist releasing information about students’ citizenship or immigration status unless we are legally compelled to do so; if presented with a subpoena or other imperative, we will seek legal counsel before taking any steps to comply.

In closing, I thank all of you who have supported, educated and advocated on behalf of undocumented students. Amid a national climate of fear and division, your work is helping to keep us united as a campus and a community.


Kathleen McCartney