Higher education associations condemn “xenophobic and sometimes racist mentality” exposed in DACA discussions
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, other organizations urge congressional action on DACA, call out language used against immigrants in discussions
In the latest voice of support for DACA from U.S. higher education, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and more than 12 other organizations, representing tens of millions of Americans, called for Congress to enact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, that since it was passed by President Obama in August 2012 has afforded temporary protected legal status to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The letter noted that the “derogatory references” to some nations that have been mentioned in discussions of DACA have an historical precedent in language used against immigrants from many countries in past centuries. With this “xenophobic and sometimes racist mentality,” the letter warns, the U.S. “risks depriving future generations of Americans of the cultural vitality offered by 21st century immigrants.”
But HACU isn’t the only voice in higher education speaking out in defense of DACA recipients, or “DREAMers,” as they have come to be known.
When the Trump administration first announced the proposed suspension of DACA in September, officials and leaders from higher education institutions across the country were among the many who condemned the decision. Many unequivocally called for Congress to take action to protect current DACA recipients, and establish a pathway to permanent legal status for the many DREAMers nationwide who have attained considerable academic achievements and contribute to the economy in a range of sectors.
Though the exact statistic is hard to identify because colleges do not always disclose the percentage of their students who are DACA recipients, a 2014 Migrant Policy Institute report estimated that around 241,00 college students across the country are DACA recipients, and a 2017 report from the same institution found that approximately 40 percent of all DACA recipients are either in high school or college.
The fate of DACA recipients is still up in the air, after Democrats’ efforts to incorporate protection of DACA recipients into the spending bill led to a government shutdown on Friday, and an eventual compromise Monday which pushed congressional action on DACA — set to be eliminated March 5 by the Trump administration — to early February.