University backs Trump administration decision to continue DACA program

Officials threw their support behind the Trump administration’s decision to keep an Obama-era protection for young undocumented immigrants in tact, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said Monday.

The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that it would not immediately scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as small children – dubbed “Dreamers” – from deportation, The New York Times reported. The program also makes Dreamers eligible for legal work permits for renewable two-year periods.

“We are pleased that the administration is continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” Csellar said in an email.

Protecting undocumented students was one of the demands student activists made to administrators when they organized a class walk out and march following President Donald Trump’s election victory in November.

The same month, University President Steven Knapp, along with more than 180 university presidents nationwide, signed onto a letter urging the Trump administration to continue and expand DACA protections.

It is unknown how many undocumented students are enrolled at GW because the University does not keep track of that statistic, but DACA gives those students protection from deportation while they pursue their education. Trump talked about dismantling the program on the campaign trail last year, but the DHS decision signaled the program would be kept in place for now.

Responding to calls from student activists and some faculty last academic year to designate the University a “sanctuary campus” that would shield undocumented students from immigration authorities, officials issued a statement in December detailing how the University would continue to support undocumented students.

The University did not adopt the “sanctuary campus” label, but officials vowed not to release confidential information about students’ immigration status and not to require proof of citizenship to apply to GW. Officials also banned the University Police Department from assisting in immigration enforcement activities unless compelled by law.

“The University reaffirmed its commitment in December with a set of guiding principles that we will continue to follow as we support our undocumented students,” Csellar said.

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