Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: Protecting DACA-Students

http://www.citylab.com; September 11, 2017


Hello Everyone:

What did you all think about Mr. Donald Trump's maiden speech before the United Nations?  Nothing like threatening to destroy another member nation to give diplomats and the assembled press corps the right impression.  Yours Truly thinks that Sir Elton John may have a copyright infringement case against Mr. Trump for his use of the moniker "Rocket Man."  The speech was so full of vitriol that Blogger half expected Mr. Trump be like late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe on the podium.  The threats against North Korea sounds like nothing more than schoolyard taunts.  This is not to say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is any better.  In fact, Blogger believes that both "men" are behaving more like two little boys.  Alright that aside, let us move on to a couple of more important things

First, Mexico has become Mother Nature's punching bag.  A few weeks ago a massive earthquake rocked the southern coast, then Hurricane Jose swept through the nation, now another massive earthquake shook central Mexico today.  What was that about about climate being a hoax?  Second and related to today's post, Rhode Island announced that it will pay the renewal application fee for DACA-recipients living the state.  Regardless, the October 5, 2017 deadline is looming large.  If you have not submitted your renewal form, DO IT NOW.  For more information please go to http://www.uscis.gov.  

Universities, across the United States, have joined forces to protect their DACA-recipient students from deportation, in the wake of Mr. Trump's cruel decision to end the program.  Blogger is happy to report that her alma mater, the University of Southern California, has promised to protect its DACA-students.  Janet Napolitano, the chancellor of the University of California system, has joined a suit against the administration, to block the administration from implementing this order.  On September 7, 2017, more than 30 people were arrested during a rally in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The rally was staged by teachers to protest the adminstration's decision to end DACA (http://www.bostonglobe.com; Sept. 7, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  DACA-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrovals-allows undocumented young people, brought to the U.S. as children to live, work and go to school legally.

Organizer Kirsten Weld, an associate professor of history at Harvard, was among those arrested.  She told CityLab:

We wanted to send a message to our students that we are going to fight for them...We also wanted to show what actions educators can take, because to get this problem solved through signing petitions.

Mimi Kirk writes, with a contribution from Alastair Boone,  in her CityLab article, "How Universities Are Protecting Their DREAMers," "The arrests of Weld and her peers are indicative of the outrage that many colleges and universities are expressing in the wake of the announcement."  USA Today reported:

According to data collected by Educators for Fair Consideration,..., 2.1 million people in the United States might qualify for DACA deferrals.  The nonprofit estimated that about 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year, but only 10,000 graduate from college.  (college.usatoday.com; Feb. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 1, 2017)

Teachers and staff also benefit from the program.

The day after the Harvard rally, the UC system, home to 4,000 DACA-students (http://www.latimes.com; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017) throughout its ten campuses, announced a lawsuit against the administration (univeristyofcalifornia.edu; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  The lawsuit states: 

The DREAMers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim..."

Meng So, the director of UC Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, called the lawsuit "a gauntlet to fight for justic and human dignity."  Mr. So told CityLab,

It's an invitation to all universities across the nation to join us in winning the battle.

Although it still remains to be seen whether or not other campuses will join the UC in the legal battle, "...the lawsuit take university resistance to deportations of undocumented of students to a new level."

Mimi Kirk reports, "While some institutions, such as Wesleyan University and Reed College, designated themse;ves 'sanctuary campuses,' last year, pledging not to assist federal authorities in the deportation of their students (at least without a warrant), university officials generally recognize that their campuses must ultimately comply with immigration law."  Tim Cresswell, the dean of faculty and Vice President for academic affairs at Trinity College, told The Atlantic  in 2016,

[Being a sanctuary campus] doesn't mean very much.  (http://www.theatlantic.com; Nov. 22, 2016; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017)

Meng So adds,

Community members push for [sanctuary campus status] out of a desire to keep students and staff safe, but we are unsure if it has legal bearing.

Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, founded in 2012 and a first in the U.S., it has become a model of how universities and colleges can provide services to their DACA-students, "...even if those services fall short of legal protection."

For DACA-student blog readers: pay attention to the next part.  Ms. Kirk reports, "First, So recommends that universities offer free legal support to their undocumented students."  Immediately after that stunning decision, institutions such as Georgetown University (http://www.facebook.com/georgetownuniversity; Sept. 5, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017), the University of San Diego (http://www.sandiegotribune.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept.19, 2017), and the University of Iowa (http://www.press-citizen.com; Sept. 8, 2017; Sept. 19, 2017) are beginning to provide or augment their legal service.

Next, "Once undocumented students seek legal advice, So says about 30 percent of the time they discover they're eligible for more permenant relief, such as visas granted to victims of crime or human trafficking."  Following that heinous annoucement, unversities are looking to sign up their students in the final two-year DACA period.  This is the important part: "Those whose status expires between now and March 5, 2018, are eligible for enrollment, and the deadline is October 5."  Kirstin Weld said, "...Harvard is looking into helping its students pay the $495 application fee.

Without DACA, students will find more difficult to pay for school.  For example, DACA-students will not be able to secure a work-study job at their school.  Ms. Kirk reports, "With such resources under threat, So say he is looking to shift work study into a public service fellowship or community engagement grant for affected student so they can maintain financial stability."

With increased anxiety over the future, universities have stepped up their mental health services.  Mr. So told CityLab,

Our students should be losing sleep over school, not over whether they will be deported the next day.

In 2015, UC Berkeley hired a counselor to work with DACA-students and other campuses are following  Berkeley's lead.

Mimi Kirk reports, "At the University of New Mexico, for instance, student programs specialists Armando Bustamante is starting group therapy session [http://www.chronicle.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] for undocumented students and is working to cover costs for individual sessions.  Harvard President Drew Faust announced [http://www.thecrimson.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] a 24-hour hotline for undocumented Harvard affiliates and a weekly support group run by the university's mental health center."

The demand for these services has been extremely high.  "So says that last week his office saw a 350 percent increase in the number of students seeking mental health support, and the website received 108,000 page views in one day..."

Kristin Weld observes "while the Trump decision first and foremost affects DACA recipients, it's harmful to all member of a university community."  She told CityLab:

The federal government us talking about coming into our classrooms and dorms to drag our student and staff awa...This ensures that universities cannot be spaces of safety and sanctuary, and that's unacceptable for everyone.  Educators and institutions must rise to the occasion.