Higher Ed Leaders Celebrate a Decade of DACA and Call for Solutions Beyond Temporary Status
Posted: June 15, 2022
Posted: June 15, 2022
HIGHER ED LEADERS CELEBRATE A DECADE OF DACA AND CALL FOR SOLUTIONS BEYOND TEMPORARY STATUS
Congress must provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2022
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration joins partners in celebrating the 10th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On this anniversary, we reflect on DACA’s decade of expanding opportunities, changing lives, and strengthening campuses, workplaces, and the nation. While DACA has been transformative, it has never been a permanent solution. It is time to build on the program’s success to provide a permanent way for DACA and undocumented students, alumni, staff, and scholars to fully participate in the country they call home. We are proud to join with partners to call on Congress to pass legislation that will include a path to citizenship for all “Dreamers.” Read more in today’s op-ed from our Steering Committee co-chairs.
In the past ten years, DACA has brought relief to nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children. This policy transformed the lives of these “Dreamers,” immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and only known one place as their home—the United States. It has provided them the opportunity to study, work, and contribute as integral members of our communities and country.
However, the number of DACA-eligible students in our campus communities has been consistently decreasing due to court restrictions, narrowing access for the younger generation. An estimated 427,000 undocumented students are currently enrolled in higher education, but less than half are DACA-eligible. Of the nearly 100,000 undocumented students graduating high school each year, only a quarter would be eligible for DACA protections. While DACA has been invaluable to so many students, it is not enough for this next generation of students and scholars.
We must ensure that valuable lives and talent are not deprived of the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Undocumented students face many hurdles to accessing their own education and pursuing their career goals, with or without DACA. In addition to navigating the arduous legal system, students face additional difficulties such as financing their education, accessing necessary resources, and attaining the needed licenses to practice in their field. Our undocumented students, scholars, and alumni have made significant contributions to our academic spaces despite the disparities they face in the education system, but it does not have to be this difficult. Delivering a path to citizenship will provide the protection and opportunity that all Dreamers deserve.
Jose Magaña-Salgado, Director of Policy and Communications at the Presidents’ Alliance: “DACA represented a monumental shift in the trajectory of the lives of over 800,000 undocumented students, including myself. Through DACA, I was able to become licensed to practice law, enter my desired career field, buy a home, and achieve a level of security and belonging in the United States that I never thought would be possible. On this ten-year anniversary, I cannot help but think of the families, communities, and impacted individuals whose lives—including their education, careers, and personal well-being—have been irrevocably and permanently changed for the better. I am heartened to be part of one of the most successful immigration initiatives in the last two decades and continue, with other undocumented youth, the fight to maintain, strengthen, and expand this life-changing—and in many cases life-saving—initiative.”
Cezanne Hayden-Dyer, Project Associate at the Presidents’ Alliance: “I am truly grateful for the opportunities that the DACA program has afforded to me. This program has changed many of our lives for the better and it has created opportunities that were once out of reach. Without DACA, I would not have been able to pursue my higher education goals or help support and contribute to my family. It has allowed me to build toward my future. While I am grateful for DACA, it is not a permanent solution. The United States is home and for many of us, it is the only home we know or remember. I can only hope that we will be able to continue to grow and thrive here. There is an urgent need for Congress to pass permanent legislation and create pathways to citizenship for our community.”
Louis Caldera, Co-Founder of the Presidents’ Alliance and Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Alliance Steering Committee: “As educators, we look back on the 10th anniversary of DACA with great pride. Young, undocumented people are burning with a desire to make the most of their talents, repay their parents for the sacrifices they made, and give back to the nation that raised them. In the stories, dreams, and accomplishments of DACA holders, we see the drive that made our country what it is today. We believe Congress should declare the program a success and enshrine a pathway for Dreamers’ citizenship into law once and for all—just as a majority of all Americans would have them do.”
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities, and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.