Presidents’ Alliance Leaders Write Powerful USA Today OP-ED: “DACA Recipients Have Helped Build the American Dream. It’s Time to Give Them a Path to Citizenship”


June 21, 2022
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.—During last week’s commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, three co-founders of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and co-chairs of our Steering Committee wrote a powerful op-ed in USA Today on why “it is time to build on the success of DACA and pass Dream legislation once and for all.”

Louis Caldera is a former secretary of the Army and was president of the University of New Mexico; Nancy Cantor is chancellor of Rutgers University, Newark; and Elsa Núñez is president of Eastern Connecticut State University. Read their USA Today op-ed, “DACA recipients have helped build the American dream. It’s time to give them a path to citizenship,” and find key excerpts below, followed by additional DACA resources.

“DACA has proved to be one of the most successful immigration programs ever. More than 800,000 individuals brought here as children have relied on DACA work permits, deportation protections and other opportunities to pursue higher education and join the workforce. Rather than living in the shadows, undocumented children who met the program’s criteria finally had the opportunity to chart a future determined by their own dreams and hard work.

…Today, however, DACA is at grave risk. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case on the legality of DACA. A decision ruling against the program could come down later this summer. Despite the continued legal challenges, a strong majority of Americans, including most Democrats and most Republicans, support a law that would permanently give Dreamers the chance to live and work legally in America – the country they call home. On DACA’s 10th anniversary, Congress must answer this call and avert the impending disaster of judicial abolition.

As university leaders, we have seen firsthand the difference DACA has made for its recipients and for our nation. DACA students have become campus leaders; earned bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees; and graduated to being nurses, doctors, lawyers and scientists. They have become highly valued employees, enlisted in the military and started thriving businesses. And as they’ve grown older, they’ve bought homes, started families and helped communities grow stronger through their charitable work and civic engagement.

…We formed the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration because we knew that DACA was worth fighting for. Our alliance gave college and university presidents a stronger voice for addressing the many immigration issues that impact our students, campuses and communities. 

…it is time to build on the success of DACA and pass Dream legislation once and for all. In the past decade, DACA has proved why expanding opportunities for Dreamers is good for all of us. DACA holders and other immigrant youth deserve a pathway to citizenship – not just permanent second-tier status and never-ending anxiety about their futures. 

Every year, about 100,000 Dreamers graduate U.S. high schools. All students deserve the chance to make the most of their talents and give back to the communities where they grew up. A legislative fix would not only offer a way for today’s Dreamers to become U.S. citizens, but also make these students eligible for Pell grants, reducing the financial barriers to a college education.  

As educators, we view the 10th anniversary of DACA with great pride. Young, undocumented people are burning with a desire to make the most of their talents, to repay their parents for the sacrifices they made, and to 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 immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level 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.