Andrew George Butler
Mad River Union
HSU – Nearly 100 “Dreamers” enrolled at Humboldt State University could face deportation after President Donald’s Trump’s decision to end the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump is phasing out the Obama-era program and has given Congress six months to pass new legislation to replace it.
DACA allows children of undocumented immigrants to attend colleges, obtain driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, find legal employment and pay taxes.
Just under 800,000 young people applied and were accepted to DACA while it was available; over 225,000 of those people live in California.
DACA enrollee’s whose status expires before March 5, 2018 may apply for a full two-year extension until Oct. 5 of this year. With no clear direction from the Trump administration on what will happen to the over three-quarter-million people enrolled in DACA, students and faculty are left to guess – and hope.
HSU President Lisa Rossbacher, in an interview with the Union, said the Dreamers set an important example for everyone at the university. “They bring a wide-variety of experiences, and they take on a dedication... to their school and education, their family, their jobs... they set an important example for everyone at the university.”
Rossbacher said HSU will hold a “Know your Rights” panel session in a couple of weeks for students to come ask questions and air concerns. An immigration lawyer will be among those on the panel, along with University Police chief Donn Peterson and others.
Students attending HSU under the DACA program will see no change in their enrollment status or any state given grants/loans they might receive regardless of their status with DACA, and in the country.
Locally, both the Arcata and University police departments have policies which prevent any assistance to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or any government agency in matters in immigration and deportation. Although the Trump Administration has not outright said it would begin deporting Dreamers, many who have enrolled in DACA fear they are an easy target.
To be accepted by DACA, an enrollee must have their complete biometrics (height, weight, etc) measured. They must submit to a fingerprint scan, provide an address and all other identifiable information a person possesses, along with $495.
Interim Multicultural Center Director Carlos Sanchez said of the information DACA enrollees disclosed “It’s a slap in the face [that] immigration has all that information now.”
Students Without Borders advisor at HSU Anayeli Auza works with undocumented/DACA students and said “It affects [DACA students] emotional health and mental health... These are students who already a lot of the time support themselves, who cannot rely on their family.”
Auza said there is also hope. “We have time to put pressure on congress, and get them to come up with a solution.”
President Trump tweeted Sept. 5 that he would revisit DACA in six months if Congress is unable to amend the Act.
Dan Saveliff, Director of HSU’s Equal Opportunity Program, said of the affected students “These students are a part of our community, many do not have a connection with their Country of origin...You have to remember the human element here.”