Montclair State Reacts to Trump Rescinding DACA

By Gabe Wanissian, Staff Writer

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LASO organization poses outside of their office in the student center. Photo by Gabe Wannisian

President Donald Trump’s order to end the Obama-era policy that protects almost 800,000 young immigrants, from deportation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has amplified worries for the well-being of undocumented students at Montclair State.
“It is critical that Congress act expeditiously,” said Montclair State President Susan A. Cole in her September 11 letter urging N.J. Congressional Delegation to defend DACA. A fiercely divided Congress now has only six months to come up with permanent legislation, otherwise DACA will phase out until it expires on March 5, 2018.
“Not to take such positive action would cause unconscionable damage to young people who have called New Jersey their home for most of their lives,” said President Cole.
The Student Government Association (SGA) is in preliminary talks about how they will approach the topic in the coming months. “We are looking at how other student governments have taken action and we would like to take what they have done to protect DACA students,” said SGA Vice President James Clark.
DACA allows those who were brought into the U.S. before June 15, 2007 while under the age of 16 to remain in the country, serve in the military and receive official forms of identification. The program began in June 2012.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement on behalf of President Trump, citing a hardline anti-immigration stance to justify the decision. “[The program] denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” said Sessions last week.
An end to DACA would reduce the country’s GDP by $460 billion over the next 10 years, according to Center for American Progress.
“This will bring a lot of instability,” said Latin American Student Organization (LASO) President and student, Brian Gutierrez.
“I know many [recipients] and they are just as American as us. They do really well and work so hard, and for it to just be taken away like that? It is just not right,” said Gutierrez.
Montclair State does not collect information as to whether students are documented, making it optional for a student to list themselves as a DACA recipient. Eight students have voluntarily told the university that they are part of the program, according to Dr. Karen Pennington, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life.
“We work with many of those students and know their struggle,” said Carmen Reyes-Cuevas, Assistant Director for the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program and LASO Co-Advisor.
“We are hoping to facilitate dialogue about DACA, not just within LASO, but across organizations,” said EOF Counselor and LASO Co-Advisor Viviana Zambrano. LASO plans to host DACA awareness events on campus during the upcoming Latino/Latina Heritage Month.
According to a recent Politico poll, an average of 76 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing these immigrants to stay in the country. Although 69 percent of Republicans think they should stay, those who oppose DACA have a range of viewpoints.
Some of those against DACA favor the program but want to see it passed through Congress rather than by an executive order, which was how Obama implemented it. Others want to get rid of the program altogether.
According to a recent Center for American Progress study, 90 percent of DACA recipients have jobs, 72 percent are in higher education and less than 1 percent have a criminal record.
After backlash from the public, Trump softened his tone by tweeting that he might revisit the issue in six months if Congress has yet to legalize DACA. Many speculate Trump is using this as leverage to gain funding for a border wall with Mexico, but according to Reuters, a senior White House aide said that Trump would be open to protecting DACA recipients without said funding.

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