In a deeply disturbing development, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the Trump administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. AACC is disappointed with this decision. DACA temporarily shields undocumented individuals who came to the country before age 16 and meet other requirements from deportation. About 800,000 people have received DACA status since the program’s inception in 2012, thousands of whom are community college students.
The Trump administration will wind down the DACA program, as specified in a Department of Homeland security memorandum. No new DACA enrollments will be accepted after today, though applications received as of September 5 will be adjudicated. DACA recipients whose current two-year exemption ends in the next six months will be able to apply for renewal, though they must file their applications by October 5. DACA recipients whose status ends after next March 5 will not be able to renew. DACA recipients will then return to their status as it existed prior to the program. Perhaps most importantly in the immediate term, they will lose their work authorizations upon losing DACA status, potentially ending the employment of thousands of people. DACA status also is the linchpin for other benefits, including in-state tuition in some places. Longer-term, former DACA recipients will once again be subject to deportation, though it remains unclear how they will be prioritized by the administration. Legal challenges to today’s decision are likely to follow, but may face a stiff challenge based on court actions to date.
Protecting DACA and Dreamer students remains a top priority for AACC. Community colleges serve a diverse student body, including immigrants who are working toward a better life for themselves and their families. AACC understands that supporting these students individually strengthens our country as a whole.
Recently, AACC joined the American Council on Education and numerous other higher education organizations this week in a letter to President Trump urging him to continue DACA. Earlier this year, AACC and the Association of Community College Trustees issued their own letter in support of DACA, and we have since engaged in other advocacy efforts with the administration and in Congress.
And now we’re asking you to take action. We know that there is strong Congressional support for restoring DACA via the DREAM Act or similar legislation. Contact your representatives now to voice your strong objection to the ending of the DACA program and urge them to find an immediate legislative solution such as the DREAM Act to prevent the lives of so many Americans from being so harmfully impacted.
AACC will communicate further details on the phase out of DACA as they become available.