The university has appointed its first full-time associate director for undocumented student services to provide support for students without documentation and coordinate legal information and resources for this community.
Arelis Palacios, who currently serves as a part-time coordinator for students without documentation and senior associate director of programming and advising in the Office of Global Education, will begin her position as associate director next Friday.
The appointment marks the university’s latest expansion of institutionalized support for Georgetown’s community of students without documentation, as President Donald Trump considers fulfilling a campaign promise to scrap the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program as early as today.
Palacios, who previously served as the school’s part-time liaison for students without documentation since November 2016 said the full-time position is the result of advocacy from a number of students, professionals and allies of students without documentation, including immigrant rights advocacy group UndocuHoyas. The position will operate through the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access.
“The creation of a full-time position for Undocumented Student Services is a culmination of years of efforts by many thoughtful, committed professionals and dynamic undocumented students and allies who have advocated for administrative support,” Palacios wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I’m continually grateful to our students for engaging in difficult dialogues, and all they have achieved in order to bring a greater awareness of the undocumented student experience to Georgetown’s campus.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said he hopes Palacios can expand on her work in educating and advocating for students without documentation.
“We are very pleased that Arelis Palacios is stepping into this new full-time role. Over the past several months, her support for our undocumented students, and her efforts to educate and engage our campus community, have been tremendously helpful,” Olson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We look forward to working with her, on behalf of our students, in the months ahead.”
The university’s announcement comes amid uncertainty for students without documentation at Georgetown and around the country, as the Trump administration considers scrapping the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA, an executive policy introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012, directs the Department of Homeland Security and other federal immigration agencies to defer immigration action and deportation proceedings of children of immigrants without documentation who arrived at an early age.
Luis Gonzalez (COL ’19), a member of UndocuHoyas, said the administration’s move is a strong sign of support from the university.
“This is huge. The associate director for undocumented student services position offers a clear indication of the strong commitment Georgetown has developed over the course of several years, and because of student-led activism,” Gonzalez said. “Many generations of UndocuHoyas have advocated for continued support for the undocumented student community and this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Palacios said her role will differ from the responsibilities the Office of Global Services conducts for international students who have authorized legal status, including advising for internships, immigration status and family resources.
Palacios’ new position will serve undergraduate and graduate students without documentation, DACA beneficiaries, and mixed status students with unique immigration backgrounds.
Palacios said the Office of Global Services will continue to serve international students who have active F-1 and J-1 status and scholars who hold other statuses sponsored by Georgetown like H-1B, E-3, O-1 and TN visas.
Gonzalez said the appointment can help counteract some of the stress students without documentation face while at Georgetown.
“Undocumented and mixed-status students are going through challenges like living with a constant fear of deportation and uncertainty while also worrying about day-to-day Georgetown things, like getting through that Problem of God reading or writing that paper for CPS,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez emphasized the importance of student advocacy both at the university and national levels.
“Generations of UndocuHoyas, old and new, have been advocating for the institutionalization of resources for undocumented students,” Gonzalez said. “I am especially grateful for the UndocuHoyas who arrived to Georgetown years past and who struggled through it but made it their mission to make things better for those who would follow.”