Source: UO committed to keeping promise to Dreamers

Dreamers speak at a symposium organized by CLLAS, 2015 / photo by Jack Liu

By Ellen McWhirter, Michelle McKinley and Kristin Yarris

For The Register-Guard

Sept. 13, 2017

Like many, we are reeling in the wake of the decision announced by the Trump administration to end the DACA program. This decision undermines the missions of our community colleges, universities and public schools, and will damage our local, state and national economies. For the past several years, the University of Oregon Dreamers Working Group has raised awareness on campus of the assets our undocumented students bring to the university, the unique challenges they face that are above and beyond the challenges of other college students, and to help staff and faculty throughout campus better understand how to respect and support our undocumented students.

We proudly echo UO President Schill’s statement of support: “In a world full of ambiguities, there is no ambiguity for me about the importance of continuing DACA. My view of morality dictates that young people, many of whom were brought here as infants or toddlers, must be allowed to remain in the United States to learn, work, and make a life for themselves. The United States is their home. To uproot them would be wrong. Period.”

Of approximately 1.9 million undocumented young people eligible for DACA, 800,000 are protected by DACA. More than half of these young people — 560,000 — are students enrolled in community colleges and universities. Oregon is 14th out of 50 states for the number of DACA applicants, with 11,000 DACA recipients.

DACA recipients are leaders in our communities and classrooms: teachers, first responders, lawyers, engineers and technicians who are launching start-ups, providing health services and other professional expertise, and sharing their intellect and perspectives.

Their financial contributions support their families, and some are breadwinners in their own right. The economic impact of ending their work authorization is profound. In the nation, their contributions are so vital that regional and national leaders in higher education, industry and government have unanimously denounced the Trump administration’s decision; the economic consequences alone are expected to be in the billions of dollars. The psychological costs are incalculable.

The Trump administration announced this rescission at the beginning of the K-12 academic year, just as we prepare to welcome our students back to campus. A time of energy and excitement is now plunged into uncertainty.

Our students and recent graduates are devastated and demoralized. They made a bargain with the government, exposing themselves and their loved ones, to “play by the rules of law,” only to be threatened back into the shadows.

Their desire for full contributing membership in society may now result in deportation to a country they do not know. And what about the fragmentation of their families and their dreams? We assure un­documented and DACA-protected students, graduates, and workers that we value their contributions, celebrate their accomplishments and will do everything in our power to honor our commitment to them.

Parents of undocumented students must not be criminalized for doing what so many of our grandparents and great-grandparents did for us: risking every­thing familiar and known to them for the sake of their children.

We are not at all reassured by White House statements that DACA recipients “will not be targeted” for deportation. Consistent with the statements from a rapidly growing list of professional higher education organizations, we owe it to these students and their families, as well as to other undocumented young people, to speak out against this rescission.

Most importantly, we urge Congress to act immediately to undo President Trump’s action and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Our broken immigration system pushes families apart and denies them status. We will continue working hard to make sure all students feel welcome on our campus. We encourage our community to do the same.

UO Dreamers Working Group is a collective of staff and faculty with a shared mission to foster the unique gifts and talents of Dreamer students, and promote their sense of belonging and safety as they pursue their higher education goals.