Letter: Move to protect Dreamers now
We write in our capacity as the official student leaders of the Arizona Public Universities—the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University—representing over 160,000 students, on behalf of our peers who identify as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The DACA program has allowed about 750,000 young immigrants under 30 years old, who entered the United States without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012, to apply for a two-year deportation deferral. The Obama administration expanded this program with an executive action. For college DACA students, this policy allows them to apply for financial aid in many states and relieved the burden that is associated with the fear of deportation. However, DACA students in Arizona are not eligible for public financial aid or public scholarships. Many of our colleagues are DACA students—70 at the UA alone—and consist of future entrepreneurs, scientists, lawyers and physicians.
The academic future of these students remains uncertain following the constant threats to repeal the program. Revoking DACA protection is at odds with the principles and values the we as a country stand for: freedom, inclusiveness and the humanity that we all hold in common. Our universities advocate for equality among all people. As such, we call on all elected and appointed officials to stand against any course of action that jeopardizes the future of our fellow students and families. America is just as much their home as it is ours, and DACA students are indispensable to our universities.
The public universities collectively generate $11.1 billion in economic impact to Arizona, larger than the Arizona state budget, with no small part contributed to by the efforts of the many DACA students. DACA students contribute materially, socially and intellectually to the success of the universities, the local communities, and the State of Arizona. Their individual experiences contribute to the diversity of cultures, experiences and perspectives that strengthen our sense of community. They help push our universities to the forefront of solving the world’s problems, and their discoveries have far-reaching impacts.
Currently, DACA students are living in fear. As student leaders, we hear their worries every day, and we have little to provide in comfort. DACA and undocumented students have expressed their fears for years, and unfortunately very little has been done to address the uncertainty of DACA at the national level.
We ask you to treat DACA recipients as students and as members of the Arizona community, rather than a problem requiring a solution. For now, students are protected by DACA legislation and we ask that you do everything within the scope of your power to make sure these programs stay in place or are expanded.
We firmly take a stand for the future of these young individuals who are part of America’s future and like all of us, deserve to live and study freely and without fear. These students are part of the future of America, and we stand in support of all that they do.
University of Arizona Graduate and Professional Student Council
Associated Students of University of Arizona
Northern Arizona University Graduate Student government
Arizona State University Graduate and Professional Student Association
Follow Jude Udeozor on Twitter.