OUR VIEW: UA should protect DACA recipients

OUR VIEW: UA should protect DACA recipients

On Monday, both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals policy, popularly known as DACA. This Obama-era protection allowed immigrants brought into the United States as children to live and work without the threat of deportation constantly looming over their heads. The end to the program now puts the onus on Congress to either continue the program or pass substantial immigration reform that would create an easier path to citizenship. If they do not reach a legislative solution up to 800,000 young people stand at risk of being torn away from the only home they have ever known. Trump’s roll out of this repeal has been met with his usual incoherence, and even though he has promised to “revisit the issue!” should Congress not pass any legislation, most immigrants are not hopeful with their fate left in Trump’s hands. 

It is a moral imperative that Congress develop some sort of legislative solution so that hundreds of thousands of people are not forcefully deported from a country founded to be a refuge for huddled masses. Allowing DACA to continue is a good first step, but ultimately, the extremely complicated nature of our immigration system needs to be addressed and rectified. More resources need to be devoted not to expanding and arming ICE, as Trump has done, but instead, to expanding the institutions and avenues that allow immigrants to achieve citizenship. 

Additionally, as Alabamians, we need to recognize the fact that it was officials from our state that threatened DACA in the first place and then respond appropriately. Our attorney general, Steve Marshall, was one of twelve state legal advisers who threatened to sue for an immediate end to the program if Trump did not act to stop it. We need to put pressure on our state officials and let them know that we do not support Alabama being the driving force behind the removal of hard-working, tax-paying individuals who add so much to our state’s economy and cultural richness. 

We must think of the immigrant students whose education here at UA is threatened by DACA’s end. Universities all across the nation have spoken out against the cruelty of forcing students to give up their dreams of a degree simply because of the happenstance of their birthplace. The University of Alabama is not one of those institutions. In an official statement, the University vowed to “work closely with those potentially impacted” and stated that they “support legislative solutions that will allow impacted students to remain valued members of our university communities.” Though the statement is no doubt well-meaning, it does not go far enough. Working closely with students and supporting possible legislative solutions are not the same as actually vowing to protect your students from being the victims of an immoral mass deportation. 

If students are threatened with deportation, the University should follow the lead of several states and sue Trump over the decision to end DACA. Though officials from the University project that the number of affected students will be “in the single digits,” even one Alabama student negatively affected by this decision is not acceptable.

It may not be normal for an educational institution to take such a strong stance against the federal government, but these are not normal times. Though it has been painted as such, the end of DACA is not a partisan issue. It is a moral one. Hundreds of thousands of young people are in need of protection from a government that has made it clear they are not welcome in this country simply because of a decision to immigrate that they did not even make themselves. Sometimes, legends have to be protected first in order for them to be made. 

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