DACA and the Supreme Court
November 18, 2019
Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the legality of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, whereby undocumented immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, are able to legally pursue education and employment. Because supporting DACA recipients in our community is of utmost importance to me, I signed several amicus briefs in the cases before the Court. I wanted to ensure that Smith’s voice on behalf of Dreamers could inform the justices’ deliberations.
Court observers say the ruling could be issued anytime between February and June 2020. I write to acknowledge the stress of this period of uncertainty, as the rights and protections of undocumented students are scrutinized once again in the context of profound political division.
Now more than ever, we must and will stand together. Regardless of the Court’s decision, Smith will remain deeply committed to protecting and supporting all members of our community. We maintain our commitments to take no voluntary action that would put members of our community at risk because of their citizenship or immigration status, and we will resist releasing information about students’ citizenship or immigration status. If presented with a subpoena or other imperative, we will seek legal counsel before taking any further steps. Further, we are facilitating access to legal counsel for undocumented students.
Over the last several years, we have taken steps to ensure undocumented and DACA-mented students can continue their education in safety and without interruption. DACA-mented and undocumented students now have equal access to institutional need-based financial aid and campus employment, as well as financial support to cover the costs of meeting immigration-related fees. A number of these changes came about through student awareness-building and advocacy. For example, the Office for Equity and Inclusion, under Floyd Cheung’s leadership, has designated Program and Outreach Coordinator Raven Fowlkes-Witten ’17 to serve as the point person for undocumented students seeking information and/or support.
Smith College has a long and proud history of welcoming students and scholars from around the world, regardless of immigration status. As advocates and allies, we will continue our work to support DACA recipients and undocumented students here and throughout the United States. This nation’s founding values of opportunity and equity are at stake.