Lewis University Statement on DACA Program Announcement
Published: September 6, 2017.
I am very disappointed and discouraged by President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program that was announced by his administration on Tuesday, September 5.
We are very fortunate to have students in the DACA program studying with us at Lewis University and we want them to know that we will work diligently to convince Congress to act on their behalf. Though this adds a great deal of stress to all DACA students and their families, and I wish the President had made a different choice, it does allow the citizens of our country to send a strong message to Congress to enact laws that have been proposed over the last decade to clarify the status of DACA students.
In supporting the members of our community affected by this action, we are living out our Lasallian Mission and values. I encourage all of us to ask U.S. Congressional leaders to not punish the more than 800,000 undocumented young people around the country who made no choice of their own to come to the United States. Since they have been in the U.S., many of these students have finished high school and are either working or attending college with the hope of finding a legal path to citizenship. They add to the Lewis community and to thousands of colleges and universities across the county. They will continue to add great value after they graduate as neighbors, friends, and contributing members of our workforce.
We are not alone in supporting these students. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and our Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, have all called for people to communicate with Congressional leaders to support these students.
Therefore, I ask that we as a community reach out to our representatives in Congress to ask them to support the Bridge Act or the DREAM Act described below.
Two Bi-Partisan Pieces of Legislation in Congress
• The most recent groundwork for bi-partisan legislation on DACA is the "BRIDGE" Act - H.R. 496 in the House, sponsored by Reps. Coffman (R-CO) and Gutierrez (D-IL), and S. 128 in the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Durbin (D-IL). The "Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy" or BRIDGE Act, does NOT grant legal status to DACA recipients. Rather, it allows individuals registered under the DACA program, and others who qualify for DACA status, to maintain work authorization in a new "provisional protected presence" status that would last for three years. So, while its content might be less appropriate for the current situation, its bi-partisan sponsorship could lay the groundwork for a permanent solution from Congress.
• In addition, the DREAM Act has been reintroduced in both sessions of Congress. The DREAM Act would allow individuals brought to the U.S. as children to pursue a higher education, serve in the U.S. military, or work for at least three years to pursue a path to citizenship. Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Roybal-Allard (D-CA) sponsored companion legislation, H.R. 3440, in the House, and Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 1615 in the Senate.
Many of you may have friends, classmates, teammates or family who are affected by the rescinding of the DACA program. Please use your own personal story to tell your representatives about your thoughts on this matter. I have listed contact information for U.S. Representatives and Senators and the Attorney General below.
The Secretary of Education and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights have made resources and a family support hotline available, also listed below. Over the next six months, I hope that our leaders in Washington will hear the voices of the Lewis community in support of our friends and students. We will continue to monitor the situation and share information as it becomes available.
U.S. House of Representatives
Sec. of Ed Educational Resources for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylees and other New Americans
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Family Support Hotline)
Dr. David Livingston
President of Lewis University