President Trump’s decision to “wind down” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program has drew widespread criticism from members of both major political parties. At UConn and across the nation, Dreamers were heartbroken by the news that they may not have protection against deportation or be able to legally work in the country. The president is giving Congress 6 months to revise the program, but the odds of that particular body enacting meaningful immigration reform are not exactly high.
In response to the announcement, UConn President Susan Herbst released a statement expressing support for students who benefit from DACA. She stressed that the beneficiaries of this program at UConn were “talented and hard-working” and as such they will likely lead productive lives that benefit themselves, their communities, and the economy overall. President Herbst also called out Trump’s decision as being “cruel, unjustified, and ultimately self-defeating.”
President Herbst is spot-on in her assessment of this action. Not simply as a compassionate human being who doesn’t want to punish people who were young children when they came to America and simply seek a brighter future, but also as someone who recognizes that studies point to the economic benefit of these individuals. It has been estimated that removing all of these young immigrants from the workforce would cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.
Words of support are important, but President Herbst is also taking concrete steps to help students affected by this decision. UConn staff are reviewing the order and the university has committed itself to making every effort it can to help students complete their studies. UConn clearly cares about its immigrant students, as evidenced by its actions now as well as the steps they took when it was first announced that undocumented immigrants in Sanctuary Cities would be targeted.
UConn is off to a good start, and should continue making every effort to support students who benefit from DACA. This could take many forms, from lobbying Congress to keep protections for Dreamers to signing on to court cases launched in response to Trump’s decision. Letting Dreamers and undocumented students know that their university stands behind them is just as important because they should not be made to feel that this is their fight alone.