Georgetown’s strongest asset is its community in diversity. The people on our campus — the students in particular — cultivate and preserve our tradition of excellence. Due to our unique backgrounds, faith traditions and lived experiences, each of us serves as a valuable piece of the Georgetown puzzle, making our community a shining example for the rest of the country and the world to follow. To remain true to our commitment to this Jesuit principle and preserve our community, we must always stand up for our fellow students. At this moment, students without documentation now find in jeopardy their very ability to call Georgetown their home; in response, we must mobilize in support of our fellow Hoyas.
Ten attorneys general from across the country, in addition to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-Idaho), have threatened to pursue legal action if the executive branch does not, by Sept. 5, begin the rollback of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which they view as unconstitutional. Former President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 to provide temporary protection to minors without documentation, allowing them to study and work in the United States legally. Congress must pass a law codifying the DACA protections for students without documentation, or these students could see themselves or their families at much greater risk of deportation. The threat is real and will have personal and tangible effects on our campus, and thus it is our job to lend our voices to this policy conversation.
Fellow Hoyas Sens. Dick Durbin (SFS ’66, LAW ’69), a Democrat from Illinois, and Lisa Murkowski (CAS ’80), a Republican from Alaska, are among those who have cosponsored the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act. If passed, the DREAM Act would ensure that students without documentation who attend Georgetown are not subject to the whims of the executive branch by allowing those who qualify both legal status and a path to citizenship. With the Sept. 5 deadline fast approaching, we must act collectively and immediately.
Georgetown’s own President John J. DeGioia has embraced this responsibility, expressing his support for legislation that increases protection for members of our student community. In 2011, DeGioia testified in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security with a message of affirmation for the important role students without documentation have within our campus community. His inspiring leadership has set the tone for campus dialogue on immigration-related policy. Nevertheless, as students, the onus is on us to stand in support of our fellow students and fight for what is right.
The Georgetown University Student Association is working to amplify student voices in this policy conversation. In collaboration with the university’s Office of Federal Relations, as well as with partners such as UndocuHoyas, Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, the Black House and La Casa Latina, GUSA is helping launch an initiative through which Georgetown students can engage directly with our respective members of Congress about how dramatically the DREAM Act would benefit our student community. By sharing stories about our peers who contribute immeasurably to our campus, who have overcome countless obstacles to make it this far and who undeniably deserve to be here, our voices will be heard loudly and clearly — hopefully to the extent that we help push this legislation forward.
During the Council of Advisory Boards Fair and throughout the beginning of this semester, the GUSA Federal and D.C. Relations Committee is working with other on-campus organizations to facilitate this campaign through letter-writing, phone calls and trips to the Hill in order to get this message in front of our members of Congress. This initiative is only as strong as the number of us who commit to standing in support of our friends and peers.
As a Jesuit institution located mere minutes from the political heart of the nation, we have an obligation to engage in powerful advocacy for our fellow students and for students across the country. The executive branch could act any day now; if it moves to end or phase out DACA, we need congressional action to preserve it. The more who join us, the louder our voice — and the better able we are to protect our Hoya family. With an urgent and dangerous threat to our community, now is not the time to shy away from the fight.
It is our turn to step up to the plate.
Kamar Mack is a junior in the College. Jessica Andino is a senior in the College. Mack and Andino are president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association.