During this past Labor Day weekend, many students relaxed and caught up with family and friends, while others were struck with fear of not knowing what their future in the U.S. will look like.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump would be cutting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with a six-month delay. The program, introduced under former President Barack Obama, protected undocumented immigrants — known as “Dreamers” — who came into the country as children with no criminal record and offered them two-year legal work permits and prevented their deportation.
Ending DACA means undocumented students will no longer be able to work or attend college under this program. According to the Trump administration, the six-month delay is intended to give Congress the time to draft legislation to replace the administrative DACA program, but no one knows what that replacement will look like. The GW community, including students, faculty and administrators, needs to use this time to come together to support the Dreamers by speaking up and reaching out to local members of Congress.
It’s not enough to just say that Dreamers have our support. We must show our support through tangible actions.
The crucial next step is to make the best out of this six-month delay. In this highly charged environment surrounding DACA, it is easy to point the spotlight on Dreamers to convey the real impact of this decision through social media and in the classroom to others. But this issue requires sensitivity. Students shouldn’t pressure Dreamers to speak up or out themselves. Although some are happy to speak up, that will not always be the case. It is hard for us who aren’t impacted by DACA to understand the uncertainty that Dreamers feel about their future and their place in this country. We should respect their decisions about publicly talking about this issue. It’s not our place to tell DACA students to speak out, especially when they could be putting themselves at risk.
Although the majority of students may not personally be affected by the Trump administration’s decision to cut DACA, that doesn’t mean we should sit back and say nothing. Students should show support for the Dreamers by speaking up for them. Dreamers are ingrained into our society and on our campus. They could be anyone, from your lab partner to your roommate; DACA students are just students too. They deserve to be in this country and on this campus just as much as any of us and deserve our support in this time of uncertainty.
It’s not enough to just say that Dreamers have our support. We must show our support through tangible actions. There is a difference between saying you care about a group and doing something that can lead to change. Although changing your Facebook cover photo and status can spread awareness among your friends, it has a very limited impact on actually changing the situation.
As with every political issue, we can reach out to our local members of Congress. While DACA may be going away, we can still advocate different legislative action to replace the program so DACA students can stay and future undocumented students who want to go to college can do so without question. Students on this campus may often be tapped into national news, but we must remember changes at the local level can be the most influential. These next six months are incredibly vital, and our community must show others that we do not want Dreamers off college campuses and out of the country.
GW has long welcomed undocumented students. The University has a long-standing policy of not asking students for their citizenship status on their application. After Trump was elected last November, former University President Steven Knapp joined more than 180 college presidents across the country in voicing support for DACA.
Everyone can use their own voice to demand that Dreamers get the same opportunity as any American student.
After Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, GW vowed to support affected students by providing legal resources, counseling and mental health services. Additionally, the University’s policies towards undocumented students remains unchanged, meaning the University Police Department will not be participating in immigration enforcement.
GW has already been doing a commendable job supporting these students in the past and has so far continued that support after the DACA announcement. University President Thomas LeBlanc and the Student Association have reaffirmed their support towards undocumented students. The University should continue offering resources and making them easily accessible in emails and on GW’s website. These resources should also be updated as the University receives more information.
For Dreamers around the country, the last week has been rough. The future is uncertain and terrifying. The majority of students on campus simply do not know how it feels to be stripped of the opportunity to get a college education, or face the threat of being deported from the only country they have ever known. But everyone can use their own voice to demand that Dreamers get the same opportunity as any American student to learn and live in the U.S.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Irene Ly and contributing opinions editor Shwetha Srinivasan, based on discussions with managing director Melissa Holzberg, managing editor Tyler Loveless, sports editor Matt Cullen, copy editor Melissa Schapiro and design editor Anna Skillings.