On Tuesday, President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program. He provided the program with six months notice for those currently enrolled. President Trump indicated that Congress should take legislative action on this issue before the March 5, 2018, deadline if Congress wanted to preserve the program’s protections. You may remember that DACA is a program that was created in 2012 to offer work authorization, permission to apply for a driver’s license, and deferment from deportation for a two-year renewable period to young people who were brought to the US by parents who were either undocumented or who fell out of lawful visa status. To be eligible for the DACA program, individuals had to be enrolled in school (or completed with education), not convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, and not pose a threat to national security. DACA was passed as an executive order by President Obama and was consistent with the Dream Act established by then Texas Governor Rick Perry.
As I noted in an email in spring 2017, I am in support of the DACA program and opposed to it being rescinded. Most—if not all—of the individuals it impacts were brought to the US by others, they only know the US as their home (they have no other home to return to), and they have shown themselves to be productive members of society. However, I do not disagree with President Trump that a legislative solution is preferable to executive order. The DACA executive order recently was threatened by several state attorney generals who indicated they would challenge the executive order in the courts. A legislative solution would make such threats less likely to be realized. Therefore, I intend to communicate with my Congressional representatives to quickly pass legislation extending DACA, and I encourage you to contact your elected representatives as well and let them know how you feel about this issue.
Given our location in South Central Texas, I am concerned that this is not just a theoretical discussion about the pros and cons of executive orders versus legislative solutions; I suspect that the rescinding of DACA may be impacting some of you or your families in real and immediate ways. In addition to the action you can take by contacting your elected officials, Schreiner University is making personnel available to have one-on-one conversations with you about this issue. Ms. Miranda Solis, in our Counseling Services office, will provide you priority scheduling if you reach out to her at either firstname.lastname@example.org or (830) 792-7279. Ms. Cristina Martinez, Director of Career Development, would be pleased to connect you with regional resources. You can contact her at email@example.com or at (830) 792-7281. Dr. Larry Cantu, our Vice President for Enrollment Services, also has agreed to meet with students who may want to have one-on-one discussions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (830) 792-7223.
In order to keep all of the campus community informed of our intentions, I want to remind you that we will not voluntarily disclose immigration and/or citizenship status without a court-issued subpoena or unless necessary to comply with a state or federal regulation or to protect a person’s safety. Some of you may question how we can take this stance given the recent passage of Senate Bill 4 in the Texas legislature. This law restricts both public and private institutions of higher education with campus police departments from adopting any policy or practice, formally or informally, which “prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws.” Last week, a federal court judge granted an injunction against this new law, but even should pending appeals overturn this injunction, Schreiner has a campus security office and not a campus police department, and therefore the law does not apply to us. Make no mistake, Schreiner will obey all relevant federal and state laws, but we also will provide all of our students the support they need in order to achieve their educational goals.
I love driving onto campus each morning and passing by the words on our front gate: “Enter with Hope.” I never get tired of it because it means a little something different to me each time I read it. This week, it speaks to me about the students Schreiner currently recruits and always has recruited. You are all wonderfully distinct, but you share much in common too. I am proud to serve as President of Schreiner University for all of you, and I ask that you maintain a deep hope in the weeks and months ahead. I continue to believe that smart people with good intentions will find their way to a sensible solution here. As we wait for this to occur and take actions that encourage this to occur, I invite you to contact me should you have any questions or concerns.
Charlie McCormick, Ph.D.