Responding to President Trump’s DACA Decision
September 5, 2017
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:
This morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on behalf of the Trump administration the end of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy enacted under President Obama that enables undocumented immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, to pursue education and employment. The President’s decision is antithetical to Smith College’s commitment to access and opportunity as well as a threat to valued members of our community and to hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
My immediate priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, regardless of immigration status. Dean of the College Donna Lisker and her staff are available to our DACA and undocumented students to reassure them of our unwavering support and to connect them with legal counsel, funded by the college. We will stand with our students during these difficult times.
The President said he will delay enforcement of his decision for six months, to allow time for Congress to act on possible replacements for DACA. In the meantime, our policies to protect all members of our community remain firmly in place. Key among those commitments are the facts that 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.
DACA was created and rescinded by executive order; the possibility of a Congressional solution is very much alive. One legislative effort in this area is the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy or BRIDGE Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in July by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). A companion bill in the House, introduced by U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), would, similarly, give many of those previously covered under DACA a pathway to citizenship. Some of us may choose to press our legislators to enact these DACA-like protections. In addition, some of us may choose to support nonprofits such as the National Immigration Law Center.
In this time of uncertainty for students and families, we must continue to actively care for one another. We must support every student in pursuing an education in an environment of safety and stability. We are a strong and caring community, and we will continue to live our values every day.