On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be rescinded. President Donald Trump ordered an end to the program after a group of state attorneys general threatened a lawsuit unless the administration would begin dismantling DACA by Sept. 5.
DACA was created during the Obama administration as a means of allowing children who were brought into the country illegally to defer deportation for two-year periods. The recipients of DACA, known as “Dreamers,” also became eligible for work permits at the time.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, those receiving deferments had to be under 16 when they came to the U.S. and under 31 as of June 2012. There are approximately 800,000 recipients of DACA, and according to Dr. Jamie Gates, the Director of PLNU’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation, about 40,000 of them live in San Diego.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, student information – such as immigration or citizenship status – is protected. According to the PLNU Office of Diversity staff, the university must hold onto that information. In a panel discussion last February, PLNU President Bob Brower reassured anyone concerned that PLNU and other private schools are not required to release information about potential students in violation, unless a subpoena or similar document is served.
Brower issued a statement to the university on Sept. 6 regarding the rescission.
“In this time, it is important for us as a Christian university to affirm PLNU’s commitment to being a safe and respectful community for all students, staff, and faculty,” Brower said in his email.
The school of Theology and Christian Ministry also responded with a statement of their own, emphasizing Christian compassion for those affected.
“This commitment is not about partisanship. Rather, it is about prioritizing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God,” Rev. Mark Maddix said in the school’s statement.
The statement also promised assistance to anyone facing uncertainty in light of the rescission of DACA. Dr. Jeffrey Carr, Vice President of Student Development and Chief Diversity Officer, is one of the faculty members offering help at this time.
“This is about the community as a whole. As long as we keep to our core goals, that means we’re going to support students who may not have official status in this country,” Carr said. Carr urges students who are affected by DACA to act quickly in order to get another two-year renewal of their deferment.
Sam Kwapong, the Director of Multicultural and International Student Services, has also opened his doors to students who may need reassurance in response to this issue.
“Students should know we have their back. We are going to fight for them,” Kwapong said.
The Center for Justice and Reconciliation plans to assist Spiritual Development alongside students. They will also continue to address the issue through their border patrols and Brewed Awakenings in order to educate students on this issue.
“In San Diego, if you have 40,000 DACA students, that’s a high percentage of people who know someone who’s a DACA student,” Gates said.
CJR intern, PLNU sophomore Lauren Perez also spoke out about the issue.
“I have many people in my life who are immigrants – family members and close friends – and so I’ve always held this subject close to my heart. When I see the way lives are affected by unfair policies, I can’t help but feel frustrated and worried for these people whose lives are being drastically changed,” Perez said.
“I think it changes the whole narrative when you know these people,” said senior Jazmine Brown, who has seen how DACA has affected the lives of some of her friends at PLNU.
In a tweet, Trump has given Congress a deadline of Mar. 5 to legalize DACA despite his hardline position on the issue while on the campaign trail.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services has said no new applications for DACA are being accepted, but those who are in the program already have the ability to apply for another deferment before Oct. 5. Beginning Mar. 6, it’s estimated that 1,000 people each day will no longer be covered by DACA.
Students anxious about them or their family losing their DACA status can go through the Office of Diversity in order to find resources and counsel regarding the rescission.