Protection for immigrant students on Campus
Ali Fernand – Features Editor
President Donald Trump began to roll back protections on immigrants, specifically Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2017. Many of those affected by these policies are college students, including some at the university.
Court cases fighting DACA still continue today. The DREAMers Action Alliance (DAA) exists to aid undocumented students during a time where they are under a lot of risks.
“The reason we came together in 2016 was in response to the election of President Trump,” said the team leader of the DAA Esteban Garcia.
According to the DREAMers Action Alliance on Southern’s website, the goal of the DAA is to “identify and break down barriers faced by undocumented students and their families.”
The alliance exists to assist those who are undocumented. There are struggles they may face – financial struggles, educational struggles It is a team full of different staff members and students.
“We’re hoping that those people on campus know that there are people on campus who understand and want to help,” said Education Coordinator and member of DAA Helen Marx.
She points out that this team exists as allies and support for those who are undocumented. Though they are not legal professionals, the members stand by students who are undocumented as they pursue their education.
According to an email sent out by university President Joe Bertolino, “The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the State of Texas, et al., v. United States (2021) ruling that the DACA Program is unlawful.”
DACA has been a key point of policies that have been made in American government. There were policies made under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump involving immigration. However, this has not ended. Court cases and issues of deportation continue into the presidency of Joe Biden.
“In 2016, Trump started eliminating DACA, so a lot of students don’t have it because they were too young to apply,” Garcia said.
Obama states on his website that DACA was a program created in 2012. It is a program aimed at those who came to the United States as children yet are still undocumented.
Trump severely reduced the number of immigrants who can receive DACA. According to Higher Education Immigration Portal, there are 121,335 undocumented immigrants in the state of Connecticut. Out of those, 11,187 are eligible for DACA.
Latinos were the target of policies made. Trump ran on anti-immigration policies, specifically building a border wall in Mexico.
According to a poll done by Pew Research Center, about 39% of Latinos in America are afraid of getting deported. While Latinos aren’t the only type of immigrants, they are the main targets politically. This has created a lot of fear among the undocumented Latino population.
The university’s policy is that a students documentation record will not be kept on file. This is to keep undocumented students safe.
“Southern doesn’t ask for students status and there is no list maintained,” said the president of the Student Government Association Kyle Thaxton.
There are more barriers that undocumented students face in pursuing their education. According to Migration Policy Institute, 23% of undocumented adults aged 25 and older in Connecticut have a bachelor’s degree or something higher. Finding a career that they are eligible for is more difficult. Those who are undocumented do not have a social security number. They cannot apply for majors, such as education and nursing, that require social security for background checks.
“We have identified policy and procedural barriers for students,” Marx said.
While these barriers do exist, there are a lot of protections and resources that exist at the university. The university does not keep records of those who are undocumented. They can safely attend the university. However, this means that undocumented students will need to seek out any assistance that they might need. There are still hardships that they will face, but the DAA and other organizations ensure that they exist as allies.
“We will continue to say that their identities will be protected, and they should not be in fear,” Thaxton said.