Colleges Reach Out To DACA Students As Trump Administration Ends Immigration Protections

Sep 5, 2017

Students in a computer lab at Rhode Island College
Credit Elisabeth Harrison

The announcement that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will be phased out came the same day that many colleges and universities began a new school year. Dozens of New England students had sought protection under the program, which granted temporary reprieves to young people without documentation, if they were brought into the U.S. as children.

At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, officials said they are reaching out to 17 students with DACA status, also known as “Dreamers.”

"UMass Dartmouth has supported and continues to support our DACA students, and wants to assure them that they are welcome here, that they are valued members of our community," said the university's chancellor, Robert Johnson, in a written statement. 

Brown University President Christina Paxson also issued a statement, calling the end of DACA "wrong." She said Brown has notified students it will not share information about immigration status with federal or state authorities without a subpoena.

"Brown does not share information with law enforcement regarding the immigration status of undocumented or DACA status students, and we will not without a subpoena," Paxson said. "Brown’s Department of Public Safety does not inquire about or act on information related to immigration status, and does not partner with federal or state agencies to do so." 

As of March of this year, 1,229 people listing a Rhode Island address and 7,934 people using a Massachusetts address had qualified for an initial DACA grant, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Trump Administration announced on Tuesday that the program will stop accepting new applications immediately and will end altogether in March of next year.

President Donald Trump issued a statement calling on lawmakers in Congress to address immigration "in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first." 

As classes got underway Tuesday at the Community College of Rhode Island, officials said they typically have about 50 "Dreamers" enrolled each semester, and they expect similar numbers when fall enrollment is finalized. CCRI officials said they are working to understand what the change in federal policy will mean for their students.

At CCRI and campuses across the region, officials pledged to continue supporting students with DACA status in the coming weeks and months.