In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, administrators at the Claremont Colleges—a consortium of five elite undergraduate liberal arts institutions—promised their full support and protection, including legal aid and emergency grant funds, to DACA students at the colleges.
DACA, short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allows certain young adults brought to the United States illegally as children to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The policy first began during the Obama administration, which, after failing to pass immigration reform through Congress, opted instead to provide quasi-legal status to certain young noncitizens through executive action.
President Trump’s decision, which paves the way for students who are DACA recipients to be deported as early as March 2018 if Congress fails to come up with a replacement plan, has faced scrutiny from both Democrat and Republican politicians, and is also now under fire from businessmen and college presidents, including those from the Claremont Colleges, which are home to many DACA recipients.
“I write to you with a heavy heart and great concern. Earlier this morning we learned that the [DACA] program has been rescinded and will wind down over the next six months,” President Gabrielle Starr of Pomona College wrote in an email to the Pomona College community.
President Starr also pointed out the support Pomona College will lend to its DACA students, including legal aid.
“Pomona stands united with all DACA and undocumented students,” she said. “These young people contribute greatly, not only to our campus and community, but to the entire nation…the College is taking further steps to assist members of our community … including the availability of emergency legal assistance, which has been fully funded by philanthropy through the generosity of our Board of Trustees.”
Pomona College Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum followed up on President Starr’s statements, adding that “the College has retained a small group of lawyers who will be available to offer individual consultations.”
In terms of financial support, work-study allotments will be replaced “with appropriate emergency grant aid,” Dean Feldblum added. “The College will continue to provide emergency grant funding to students for immigration-related costs.”
At Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Associate Dean of Students for Diversity, Inclusion & Residential Life Vince Greer similarly announced that “in lieu of the official announcement today regarding The Trump’s administration [sic] decision to rescind the DACA program we wanted to create a space for students to come together and process the ramification of this event.”
He also said that CMC will host a DACA workshop, where “[i]mmigration attorney Lauren Burke will discuss the implication of the President’s decision.”
Pitzer College’s President Melvin Oliver responded to Trump’s move, stating that “Pitzer College reaffirms its commitment to its—and America’s—core values of social justice and intercultural understanding, and will continue to recognize the right of all DACA students to pursue the American Dream … We will not turn away from the commitments we have made to DACA students and other vulnerable immigrant students.”
“These students are quintessential representatives of Pitzer, embodying in their courageous actions and spirit our shared values. To our Dreamers, please know that we support you during this difficult period.”
Students at the Claremont Colleges had similar sentiments. Matthew Ludlam (PO’ 20), said “[removing DACA] seriously hurts those in our college community who spent their lives here, and while I think DACA provides security, if it were to be removed it would have to be phased out. That way existing occupants would remain covered.”
“Most importantly it [removing DACA] provides no contingency for what should be common sense cases. What about college students who have spent their whole lives here, gone to school here, made friends here, who may not even speak fluent Spanish because they were so young when they came here,” Ludlam added. “You’re telling me they aren’t American enough?”
This story is developing.