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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GUSA Signs DACA Pledge of Support

HOYAS FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL '19) signed GUSA onto a pledge of support for the DACA program, which grants protections to students without documentation.
GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) signed GUSA onto a pledge of support for the DACA program, which grants protections to students without documentation.

The Georgetown University Student Association officially signed on to a regional student government coalition’s Student Association Statement of Support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Obama-era program that allows children brought into the country without documentation to receive deferred action waivers or work permits March 23.

GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) signed the Statement of Support on behalf of GUSA. The statement was written by members of the Student Leadership Alliance, a group started by the Federal and D.C. Relations Committee of GUSA with a national and local arm that brings together student leaders from across the country.

The statement notes the DACA program directly benefits some undocumented Georgetown students by allowing them to attend the university without fear of deportation. It also argues many undocumented students have integrated into the community.

“Undocumented students attending institutions of higher education across the nation are feeling vulnerable as the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains uncertain,” the statement read. “As leaders and members of our university communities, we stand together with all of our students, and believe that every student should have the opportunity to pursue their learning objectives without fear of deportation.”

The statement asks U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leaders to support the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy Act, which would extend the DACA program for three more years. The BRIDGE Act is meant to continue the program until comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved in the future.

“We exhort our respective university administrations to continue to support and uphold DACA on your campus and in your community,” the statement read. “Together, we will continue to create an environment of support for those students who feel unsure of their futures in this country and at their university.”

Student Leadership Alliance Executive Director Allie Gurwitz (COL ’19) said the Student Leadership Alliance will give the Statement of Support to other universities outside Washington, D.C., to sign later this spring.

“We will be sending this statement out to the rest of the schools in our network soon along with additional materials so that each campus involved can do their own advocacy,” Gurwitz wrote in an email to The Hoya.

University President John J. DeGioia had previously signaled his support for maintaining the DACA program in an email to the Georgetown community.

DeGioia announced initiatives to conduct training sessions for immigrant students on their rights if they are detained and advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform April 3.

Other schools in the D.C. branch of the Student Leadership Alliance, known as the D.C. Consortium of Schools, include Georgetown, George Washington University, American University, Catholic University, Howard University and Gallaudet University. So far, only these D.C. Consortium schools have signed the Statement of Support.

Zac Schroepfer (MSB ’19), the founding director of the Student Leadership Alliance, said the organization works to help students who could be negatively affected by national legislation. The Student Leadership Alliance is officially nonpartisan.

“[Repealing] DACA would have an extraordinarily bad effect on our campus, as well as many other campuses around the United States,” Schroepfer wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As I said earlier, the SLA aims to advocate for students, not take a ‘political side’ or choose between parties.”

Schroepfer said Georgetown, as a Jesuit university, has an obligation to help students who would otherwise be discouraged from applying to the university as a result of the DACA program’s protections for students without documentation ending. He said Georgetown would be a less diverse institution if DACA were ended by President Donald Trump.

“Georgetown University is a university that aims to embrace the Jesuit value of a community in diversity,” Schroepfer wrote. “This means bringing people from ALL backgrounds, from across the country and the world, to our campus to study, engage in dialogue about our society, and form their thoughts to allow them to be more productive and altruistic servant leaders as global citizens.”

Gurwitz said Trump’s actions have made undocumented students at universities, including Georgetown, feel less safe. As a result, Mack’s signing of the Statement of Support should help them know that their community supports them.

“Looking at this issue from a student perspective is extremely important, as undocumented students are beginning to feel less and less safe on campuses across the country,” Gurwitz wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The repeal of DACA would be detrimental for the community of undocumented young adults who wish to pursue a higher education.”

The Hoya reported April 4 following DeGioia’s email on 50 members of the Georgetown community attending a candlelight vigil in Red Square on April 3.

D.C. Consortium Director Henry Callander (COL ’18) said he thinks the statement may help student morale on the DACA issue.

“Hopefully we can make the statement that this is really an important program and we don’t want it to be cut,” Callander said.

Hoya Staff Writer Sarah Fisher contributed reporting.

This post has been updated.

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