How Quinnipiac is supporting DREAMers after the March 5 deadline

Embed from Getty Images

By Thamar Bailey

Experts are trying to figure out how to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in the wake of President Trump’s passed March 5 deadline for DACA, according to Maria Praeli, Quinnipiac University alumna and immigration policy associate at FWD.us, a bipartisan organization with a hand in commonsense immigration reform and criminal justice reform advocacy.

The Obama Administration established DACA in 2012. It granted undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors with a temporary and renewable two-year work permit and protections from deportation, according to informedimmigrant.com.

But President Trump put the program in jeopardy in September. He announced a March 5 deadline, after which no one can renew or or submit an application.

A week before the the Trump Administration’s deadline the Supreme Court announced they would not hear a California case concerning the integrity of the DACA program. As a result, the case returned to the ninth circuit. The court ordered an injunction that made the deadline obsolete. While it didn’t create a solution, Praeli described the injunction as a “small victory.”

 Timeline by Thamar Bailey

Timeline by Thamar Bailey

  

“What the court petition did was that out of a California injunction say that the way in which the Trump administration ended the program wasn’t right and therefore the administration had to accept renewal applications,” Praeli said. “But what it did not do was say that the administration had to accept new applications.”

FWD.us is currently working on is assisting businesses and universities to support their DACA recipients.

“It’s someone's well being being turned upside down, but it’s also people within their communities, their circle that’s affected by this,” Praeli said. “So if you’re an employee your employer is now losing someone and that’s [a] cost to business. If you’re a teacher at a university you would be potentially losing a student.”

Several universities have showed their support for DACA recipients by paying for legal fees associated with applying for and renewing DACA permits as well as offering scholarships.

More than 700 college and universities signed on to the Pomona College statement, symbolic of their support for DACA students, otherwise known as DREAMers, stating their refusal to share information on DACA students and refusing to use campus enforcement for deportation.

Quinnipiac University was not one of those universities, according to Executive Vice President and Provost Mark Thompson.

“The concern that the president had with signing on to the [Panoma statement] was about the potential political backlash against those institutions that were signing on to that agreement,” Thompson said. “So he didn’t want to position our students who are DREAMers to potentially in any way be impacted by any backlash that would come from the federal government.”

While Quinnipiac didn’t officially sign the Panoma statement, Thompson said the university follows the same sentiment. In an email addressed to the Quinnipiac community on Sept. 6, 2017, Thompson reaffirmed the universities commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“DACA students are an integral part of our community,” Thompson wrote. “The university does not share private information about our students in accordance with the Family Educational and Rights of Privacy Act (FERPA). While the university is bound to comply with state and federal laws, enforcement of federal immigration policy primarily rests with federal authorities.”

Praeli, who graduated in 2016, believes the university could have firmer policies. During her time at the university she noted she had great professors, but lacked a sense of community. Instead, she had to make her own network of professors and faculty members to support herself.

According to Thompson, the Quinnipiac Department of Multicultural and Global Education would’ve been in charge of facilitating such a network and community. He added that he believes this is something the university ought to do if it’s not being done already.

Community is only one issue of various academic barriers that DREAMers have to face, Praeli said.

In Connecticut prior to 2011, even if a student had lived in the state their whole life they wouldn’t be eligible to pay in-state tuition. It wasn’t until Governor Malloy signed An Act Concerning Access to Postsecondary Education in July 2011, that undocumented immigrants who met the criteria were eligible for in-state tuition.

Praeli also explained that DREAMers are not privy to financial aid and state funding in the forms of grants and loans, which is why various private institutions have created scholarships for DREAMers.

Quinnipiac doesn’t offer any scholarships specifically designated for DREAMers, according to Dominic Yoia, the university director of financial aid. However, Yoia said all students are considered for academic scholarship, regardless of their U.S. citizenship status.

While there’s no official count of the number of DACA students attending Quinnipiac, Thompson suspects the number is relatively low.

However, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute and political science professor Sean Duffy said regardless of the number of DACA students, the university should provide better assistance for them, especially because there’s a reality that many of Quinnipiac students have mixed-status or undocumented families while they are citizens themselves.

“It would be nice if our university actually had more than just to say ‘oh if you’re concerned about this then go to the office of multiculturalism and global education and they’ll be able to refer you to some resources in the community that may be able to help,’” Duffy said. “That’s really a kind of weak kind of support in my mind.”

The department of multicultural and global education was unavailable for comment for this story.