Statement from the University Dean of Student Affairs and the General Counsel on DACA

September 13, 2017

Last week, following the Trump Administration’s announcement that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, the President’s Cabinet sent a message to the community reaffirming the University’s commitment to our students, our educational mission, and our values. The Cabinet also indicated that we would follow up with additional details and guidance. We recognize that, while Dreamers and many others are following developments closely and are well aware of details, others in our community are not.  This memorandum will provide background on DACA that some in the community may already know, while presenting facts about the current threat to some of our students that we believe many will benefit by understanding better.

Since 2012, DACA has protected about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. These immigrants are not permitted under current law to apply for U.S. citizenship, nor to become permanent residents. DACA was established through an executive order by President Obama after he and Congress were unsuccessful in working together on immigration legislation. The two main justifications were: (1) children should not be held responsible for the unlawful decisions of their parents (or other adults), and it would be cruel and unwarranted to remove children from their home; and (2) Congress had failed to enact legislation to address immigration issues, and therefore the president felt an obligation to act. The president’s action was criticized by opponents of the program as an executive overreach that intruded into the powers of Congress.  

To qualify for DACA, applicants had to meet three criteria: (1) they entered the U.S. before the age of 16, (2) they lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007, and (3) they had no criminal record. Participation in the program offered two main benefits: it protected the person from deportation for a two-year period, and it authorized him/her to legally work in the U.S. during those two years.  

The Trump Administration’s action – to rescind DACA and provide a six-month phase out – places an obligation on Congress to do what it previously was unable to do: pass immigration legislation. Congress has been given a March 5, 2018 deadline, which is both a short time to pass major legislation and a long time for those impacted to wait and wonder what the future will hold for them. In rescinding DACA, the Trump Administration, specifically:

  • stopped accepting new participants into the program;
  • refused DACA renewal for individuals whose registration will expire after March 5, 2018; and
  • agreed to process renewal applications for DACA recipients whose registrations will expire on or before March 5, 2018, provided their applications are submitted no later than October 5, 2017.

Other legislation is under consideration in Congress; the community may wish to read about H.R. 496S. 128H.R. 3440, and S. 1615.

While our politics and other views may differ, we can be united in our care and compassion for each other. As context for the guidance/remarks we will share here, we want to reiterate the values stated by the President’s Cabinet following last week’s DACA announcement and by President Kuncl in his Convocation remarks on August 30, 2017:

  • As a teaching and learning community, our mission, and therefore our commitment, is to support everyone in our community who seeks to expand their mind and skills, find their passion, contribute to society and the world, and ensure a bright, productive future for themselves and their family – through education.
  • We support all scholars who join our community, regardless of their immigration status or national origin.
  • As a compassionate, humane, and empathetic community, we remain committed to our core values of diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination.
  • We treat all persons among us equally, with respect, and with dignity.

What will the University of Redlands do?

We will:

  1. Continue to admit students without regard to their immigration status.
  2. Continue to guard student privacy by not revealing records and information to third parties, including governmental entities/officials, unless the University is legally obligated to do so. If so obligated, we will notify the student prior to releasing information unless a court order prohibits us from providing such notice.
  3. Join the upcoming conference call hosted by U.S. Representative Pete Aguilar ’01 to discuss DACA and the future of Dreamers on our region’s campuses.
  4. Finalize the letter we are drafting to other political leaders in the U.S. and California, outlining the institution’s support for DACA and urging leaders to come together to create common sense solutions.
  5. Continue to offer counseling to students impacted by the DACA decision, who can call 909-748-8108 for an appointment.
  6. Continue to offer safe spaces for students. There are many supportive individuals on campus, but if you are uncertain where to turn, you can talk to staff in the Office of Campus Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) or the Chaplain’s Office.
  7. Continue to advise DACA recipients and undocumented students that you should not travel outside the country in the current environment; this is true even if a student has an Advance Parole Document.
  8. Continue to facilitate through CDI students’ connections to a variety of agencies providing independent legal and other immigration advice.
  9. Offer DACA-registered students – as we do all students – access to the University’s emergency financial assistance program, if and when they face unforeseen financial challenges. Participation in this program is coordinated through the Office of the University Dean of Student Affairs.
  10. Continue to explore teaching and learning opportunities about DACA and immigration matters.

What can DACA recipients do?

You can:

  1. Take advantage of the resources and heed the advice provided in the section above.
  2. Have confidence that the overwhelming majority of your professors, classmates, and University community are fully supportive of you. Know that the University rejects “high performance” as an added bar by which we should measure and value Dreamers. You, like all of our students, deserve your place at our University because you worked hard to get here, you work hard to stay here, and you chose the U of R as the place to pursue your future. You deserve your place in our broader society because you were brought to this country without personal agency, and the U.S. is your home.
  3. Educate yourself about your rights and how to use your voice safely and effectively.  Dreamers may want to consult with CDI and other resources to explore how best to conduct advocacy efforts without further placing yourself in legal jeopardy. 
  4. If your DACA permit expires between now and March 5, 2018, either file a reapplication no later than October 5, 2017, or understand that when your current permit expires you likely will lose DACA status (unless Congress, the president, or the courts do something to alter the landscape).

What can each of us do to support DACA recipients and other undocumented students?

We can:

  1. Contact members of Congress. Next week, Congressional addresses and phone numbers, sample letters, and sample voice mail messages will be available in CDI. The most effective communications are personal and not “form” communications; however, examples might be helpful as prompts, as individuals plan their own communications.
  2. Treat all persons with respect and dignity. We evidence our community not through pronouncements by administrators, but through person-to-person care for one another. 
  3. Recognize that affected students may be under immense pressure and experiencing even greater insecurity at the moment. Do your best to be an active, understanding listener while reminding Dreamers of the resources and support within their University community.