By Sierra Lammi
On Sept. 5, 2017 President Trump announced an end to funding for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA offers protection from deportation for people who came to the US as immigrants.
Removing it will leave many people who came to the US as children
vulnerable to deportation. Shortly after this announcement, CSB President Mary Hinton and SJU President Michael Hemesath released a statement to the community announcing their support of continuing the
program, and extending that support to those on campus affected by DACA.
The statement made by the presidents was followed by
similar statements from both the CSB and SJU Senates. All three statements have expressed support for members of the CSB/SJU community affected by DACA, as well as clearly stating that all students, whether or not they are personally affected by DACA, are welcome at CSB/SJU.
“My goal in signing the letter on behalf of St. John’s University was to signal to our community and especially our students that we support DACA students,” Hemesath said via email. “I think the most important thing we can do for DACA
students, and all students is to recognize and respect the humanity of every person we encounter, to offer authentic support and encouragement, and, to think about how we can use our individual and collective voice to
advocate passionately with, and on behalf of, others,” Hinton said via email.
Members of the CSB Senate also released their statement in the hopes of fostering a welcoming community here at CSB/SJU.
“We felt that it was our place to release a statement to the entire student body saying that we don’t condone [the discontinuation of DACA],” CSB Senate President Mary Catherine Steenberge said. “And that we do want to provide support to all of our students on campus. No one has to feel ashamed or hidden on this campus.”
In addition to calling for a welcoming community, statements from Presidents and Senators alike have drawn attention to the importance participation in government, and called for members of the community to support Dreamers by working directly with legislative representatives.
“I think the best way to support anyone affected by DACA is to contact members of Congress directly,” Hemesath said via email, “I think it is well understood that Representatives and Senators care about what their constituents think about various political issues.”
Hinton agrees and plans to be more directly involved in legeslation to protect students.
“College presidents’ have access to our legislative leadership and we will utilize that access, individually and collectively through our work with the Minnesota Private College Council, to support strong legislative action that supports students,” Hinton said via email.
The reaction to these statements has generally been positive, and the community seems willing to come together to support those affected by DACA. Leader of Intercultural and International Student Services Brandyn Woodard plans to help DACA students in a more personal and private manner.
“DACA students want to know and feel that they are safe here,” Woodard said. “They don’t want to be harassed, and they don’t want the weight of something that probably 95% of students here don’t have to think about.”
DACA will begin getting phased out in March of 2018, and Congress has until then to come up with another solution for Dreamers.