Georgetown University administrators detailed the university’s efforts to fight for a permanent replacement for the rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at an information session held in the Healey Family Student Center Social Room on Monday.
The Trump administration announced Tuesday, Sept. 5 it would rescind DACA — an executive program established by former President Barack Obama’s administration providing work authorization and legal protection to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children — with a six-month delay allowing Congress to enact a permanent replacement.
After the decision was announced, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia sent letters to members of Congress lobbying for the passage of a legislative replacement, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming said Monday.
Fleming added that the university has been reaching out to senators and representatives, including Georgetown alumni, to push for the passing of the Dream Act of 2017, which would provide a path for permanent residency to qualified undocumented immigrants, providing an alternative to DACA.
“We are committed. This is going to get done. We’re not going to have to worry about what happens after March 5th,” Fleming said. “I think the attitudes on Capitol Hill are changing. Having heard comments from a variety of members of Congress, I see people moving in the right direction.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and other administrators at the event called for the rest of the Georgetown community to come together and contribute to issues affecting undocumented students, while also urging undocumented students on campus to seek counsel as soon as possible.
For students applying for or renewing their DACA status before the Oct. 5th deadline, the university will facilitate free and anonymous legal services by contracting with Catholic Charities’ immigration legal services, according to University counsel Adam Adler.
Fleming also encouraged the students in attendance to participate in the Friends of Dreamers program, through which signed letters containing the stories of undocumented students are delivered to legislators on Capitol Hill. Fleming said the stories, which are more impactful than a phone call, are planned to be delivered by administrators and student beginning this week.
Georgetown reached out to other Jesuit colleges and universities to collaborate on the effort, according to Fleming.
Associate Director for Undocumented Student Services Arelis Palacios also called for students to stand by their peers by externalizing support for DACA and promting constructive dialogue. She offered to train student leaders on campus to help them achieve this.
“There are students who are directly impacted, who we communicate with very consistently, and then there are the allies, and the allies are really critical in this conversation in terms of how you can start to change the conversation about this on our campus,” Palacios said. “We are absolutely wanting these students to matriculate, we want them to be part of our campus, we see them as a necessary voice.”
Highlighting the university’s continued involvement with the issue for over a decade, Olson expressed his confidence in the university’s continued engagement with the issue.
“As time has moved on over the last several years, our approach as an institution has evolved, it has grown,” Olson said. “We have hard work to do together, I am confident we are up to the task.”