DACA and the Smith Community
February 27, 2018
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:
As you know, President Trump issued an executive order last September rescinding DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Unless Congress enacts a permanent, long-term solution by Monday, March 5, protections offered to an estimated 800,000 undocumented youth, brought to the U.S. as children, may disappear.
Despite numerous legal challenges, intense advocacy efforts and bipartisan legislative proposals, the future of DACA beyond next week’s deadline remains uncertain. This is a concern felt deeply in our community. Students like Diana Umana ’19 have bravely told their stories in the hope that the imperative for change will be felt more acutely and personally. The most effective way to shape public opinion and influence legislation is through powerful individual stories.
Many of you have reached out to your elected officials to join in efforts to support DACA recipients. I want to particularly commend the advocacy of students involved in OUSR—the Organization for Undocumented Students’ Rights.
Know that you are not alone in your advocacy. Since September, college and university presidents have worked collectively across higher education and beyond to stand against the administration’s actions. As you may know, I signed the American Council on Education’s letter to Congress as well as an amicus (friend of the court) brief in a suit brought by the University of California against the Department of Homeland Security. Smith's September 5, 2017, statement is specifically cited in the amicus brief. And I joined the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, committing to advancing policies that support and welcome immigrant, undocumented and international students.
As the March 5 deadline approaches, I would like to reiterate Smith’s commitment to protecting and supporting members of our community. We stand by our commitments to
- 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 addition, a proposal to train Smith students to act as Dreamer Supporters was recently awarded a grant through the president's Innovation Challenge program. The School for Social Work, OUSR and the college’s Center for Religious and Spiritual Life will train as many as 25 Smith students, who will then serve as resources for offices at Smith and at area colleges.
In the face of anxiety and uncertainty, many of us will continue to pressure members of Congress. Equally important, let’s make clear our commitment to providing strength, kindness and support to every person who calls Smith home. We are strongest as a community when we stand with and for one another in defense of our shared values of inclusion and access.