President F. Javier Cevallos called for immediate legislative action following the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program within the next six months, in an email to students on Sept. 5.
DACA is a program that allows young people who are in the United States illegally to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation. DACA recipients are also eligible for work permits, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The program was instituted by the Obama administration in 2012.
There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. By March of this year, the USCIS had accepted over 9,000 DACA applications just within Massachusetts.
There are DACA students on campus, said Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development. However, Holloway would not release the number of DACA students currenty attending FSU on the grounds of protecting their privacy and safety.
Last year, the Gatepost reported there were 31 DACA students enrolled at Framingham State.
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said in an email, “The repeal of the program is unfair and shocking. Our DACA students know no other home. They thrive at Framingham State and graduate to become productive citizens of the commonwealth.”
In his email, Cevallos said, “I join with other Massachusetts leaders in calling on Congress to take quick and decisive action to find a permanent legislative solution that will maintain protections for the nation’s DACA residents.”
Cevallos also united with other Massachusetts public state college and university presidents in pushing for state legislation that would ensure DACA students living in Massachusetts could continue to qualify for in-state tuition regardless of federal actions.
“Our role is to advocate for our students with our legislators,” he said.
Framingham State also plans to support DACA students on campus.
“We have an alum who is an immigration lawyer, and he has offered to provide pro-bono services for our DACA students. … He is willing to come to campus and meet with students who need help with their immigration status,” Cevallos said. This service will be organized through the Dean of Students’ office.
Additionally, González has compiled a list of resources for understanding DACA and the implications of a repeal. It can be found on the FSU website.
Some faculty said they hope FSU students will have empathy for those affected by this decision.
Lina Rincón, a sociology professor specializing in immigration, said, “I have students that are DACA recipients. That’s where my heart goes. … Some are worried – ‘What’s going to happen with my status? Am I going to be able to graduate?’ They are really on the edge of their seats.”
Cevallos and González hope FSU students will learn more about DACA and advocate for their fellow students by writing to their senators and members of congress.
Cevallos said, “These are people that are intelligent, that are hardworking, that want to be productive members of society. They work. They pay taxes. They want to contribute. So why not help them?”