The University of St. Thomas has joined colleges and universities across the country in denouncing the Department of Homeland Security action ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. We call for congress to pass legislation as soon as possible to permanently protect DACA students, also known as Dreamers, who were brought to our country as children. Specifically, in her welcome back messages to students and staff, Dr. Julie Sullivan stated, “Today we stand with our DACA students. We will advocate for a permanent fix to this pressing problem and will ensure our current DACA students’ financial aid to attend St. Thomas is not diminished.”
As a university founded by Archbishop John Ireland to provide access to education for immigrant families, our support for the DACA community extends beyond our students. Whether an immigrant student is undocumented or has family members who are undocumented, the uncertainty and fear surrounding this policy change are stressful. We encourage students to access information and support and attend an informational event. St. Thomas School of Law Immigration Law Practice Group has posted a number of resources on their website as well as the Dean of Students website.
“For those directly affected by this decision, I want you to know beyond question: You are welcome at St. Thomas. For those indirectly affected, we are called to be in solidarity with those who are,” Karen Lange, Vice President for Student Affairs wrote in a statement to the St. Thomas community.
The university advises DACA students to do the following:
- Check your paperwork. If your status and employment authorization will expire prior to March 5, 2018 immediately apply for renewal. The deadline is October 5, 2017.
- Do not travel outside the United States. The Department of Homeland Security is no longer granting advance approvals to travel outside the United States. Even if a person has currently valid advance parole (permission to travel), legal experts are advising against travelling outside the U.S. because Customs and Border Patrol have discretion regarding whether the individual can be re-admitted to the United States, and the advance parole document can be terminated at any time. DACA students should not study abroad.
- Consult with an immigration lawyer to see if there is another immigration status for which you might be eligible.
What is DACA?
Initiated in June 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy addresses the uncertain status of thousands of young people, who were brought to this country as infants or children. DACA provides eligible recipients temporary permission to stay in the United States and obtain work permits. These young people grew up in the United States. After years of living in limbo, many of them were able to register with the federal government and gain the temporary DACA status available under the policy.
To qualify for DACA, applicants must pass a multi-faceted and rigorous test and meet the following requirements: to have arrived in the United States before reaching age 16; resided here continuously since 2012; be enrolled in or completed high school; not been convicted of a crime; and not present a threat to national security or public safety.
About 800,000 young people so far have DACA status. With a legal path for education and employment, they pay taxes and contribute to the economy. They are ineligible for federal means-tested welfare benefits, Pell Grants and federal student loans, as well as tax subsidies.
Memorandum to end DACA
On Sept. 5, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum to rescind DACA and provided a six-month wind-down period:
- Effective Sept. 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer accept new applications for DACA.
- Those currently enrolled in DACA can continue working until their permits expire (permits are typically issued for two years).
- Those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018 will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals but must do so by October 5, 2017. DHS will review these applications on a case-by-case basis.
- New applications and renewal requests received by DHS before Sept. 5 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, even those for permits that expire after March 5, 2018.
- Congress has until March 5 to determine any future legislation regarding DACA students.
- Minnesota Immigrant and Refugee Rights Helpline – DACA questions
- US Department of Homeland Security, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals