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Penn State President 'Deeply Concerned' About DACA Decision

by on September 06, 2017 3:31 PM

After the Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it would bring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to an end, Penn State President Eric Barron sent a message to the university community and signed on with other college leaders to urge Congressional action.

"In light of a memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security that the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be ending, we are deeply concerned for the welfare of the students impacted," Barron wrote.

DACA was implemented by an order from President Barack Obama in 2012 to allow certain immigrants who entered the country illegally as children 16 or younger to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred deportation. Those in the program, known as "Dreamers" for the never-passed DREAM Act which would have made the program federal law, pay a $495 fee and register every two years along with other requirements. They are allowed to remain in the U.S. and receive authorization to work while in the program. "Dreamers" are not eligible for government benefits such as welfare and food stamps.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said DACA would be rescinded, with a six-month wind-down period. Sessions said the program was illegal and Obama's order was executive overreach that circumvented the legislative process. About 800,000 individuals are enrolled in DACA and would be eligible for deportation at the end of six months.

President Donald Trump later indicated that it is up to Congress to pass legislation to codify DACA's provisions before the end of those six months.

In Pennsylvania, there are 5,889 "Dreamers," according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who joined more than a dozen other attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to challenge the administration's decision. Shapiro said 87 percent of Pennsylvania "Dreamers" are employed and generate more than $20 million in state and local taxes.

Barron, meanwhile, joined the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in calling for Congress to take swift action to pass legislation to preserve DACA's provisions.

"I have joined with university leaders from across U.S. higher education institutions to express continued support for the education of all qualified students who graduate from our high schools," Barron wrote. "Every student at this University has earned the right to be here based on their academic talent and hard work."

Barron said the university's goal is to build a "supportive and diverse" community committed to educating students and helping them become successful members of society.

"We will continue to advocate with members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation on behalf of our students and all who may be potentially affected by this decision," Barron wrote. "My administration stands in support of efforts to find a legislative solution to allow DACA beneficiaries to maintain their current status, and to complete their degrees."

Read Barron's full message below:

To the Penn State community,

In light of a memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security that the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be ending, we are deeply concerned for the welfare of the students impacted.

I have joined with university leaders from across U.S. higher education institutions to express continued support for the education of all qualified students who graduate from our high schools. Every student at this University has earned the right to be here based on their academic talent and hard work.

My leadership team will continue in its work to build a supportive and diverse community that embraces equity and inclusion for all. We remain committed to our ultimate goal for all students: to provide them with a world-class education that will help them to become successful, productive members of society. We will continue to advocate with members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation on behalf of our students and all who may be potentially affected by this decision. My administration stands in support of efforts to find a legislative solution to allow DACA beneficiaries to maintain their current status, and to complete their degrees.

At Penn State, as we have stated previously, we will continue to provide important resources:

  • By providing programs that embrace diversity and promote broad acceptance of differences, and ensuring equitable access to our facilities, programs, resources and services;
  • Through our support and guidance for all students through Student Affairs, Global Programs, Undergraduate Education, Office of Educational Equity, the Graduate School and more;
  • Via our Student Legal Services (814-867-4388 or your campus Office of Student Affairs), providing free confidential advice, representation and, when needed, referrals to students – including immigration matters and our Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic in our Law School (centerforimmigrantsr@pennstatelaw.psu.edu);
  • With our Affirmative Action Office (814-863-0471) and our Multicultural Resource Center Diversity Advocate for Students/ Counselor (http://equity.psu.edu/reportbias), and short-term counseling services (866-799-2728 or http://ohr.psu.edu/health-matters/employee-assistance-program); and,
  • Through University Police and Public Safety officers devoted to ensuring the safety and security of every member of our community.

It is my firm belief that we are stronger when we stand together in celebration of our differences. As this national conversation goes on, we will continue to stand for inclusion and against discrimination.

Eric J. Barron

President, Penn State



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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