The Student Newspaper at Middlebury College

The Middlebury Campus

On DACA: Middlebury Stands with Dreamers

By MIGUEL FERNÁNDEZ

The week before heading back to college tends to be a bit frenetic for our students, tying up loose ends from the summer, going through the long list of mom’s to-dos, wrapping up a job or even a romance.

Combined with the excitement, there is usually some stress in this process: What have I forgotten to pack? Who have I not said goodbye to? How hard will my classes be? Did I make enough money?

For some members of our community last week presented a kind of stress most of us will never experience. On Sept. 5, the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The fates of hundreds of thousands of students who enrolled in the program are now hanging in the balance.

In anticipation of the announcement, President Patton and I sent a message to the community on Sept. 1 reiterating the our unwavering commitment to providing educational opportunities to students without regard to nationality, place of birth, immigration status, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or economic status. Middlebury will support undocumented and DACA-designated students throughout their time at all of our schools and programs.

We continue to look for ways to support our students, in particular those enrolled in DACA whose status, and that of their families, will be in turmoil over the next six months. With that in mind, we have taken several steps.

With the help of the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), we are maintaining a DACA resources page that will stay up-to-date with the latest changes in immigration policy and provide useful information to our community (http://www.middlebury.edu/international/isss/daca-resources).

President Patton is penning a letter that will be signed by presidents of most of Vermont’s institutions of higher education urging Congress to swiftly pass legislation to establish DACA in law and supporting the Vermont attorney general’s suit against the termination of the program.

We are in the process of bringing an immigration lawyer who specializes in DACA to campus in the next few weeks to speak to students about the latest changes, their rights and what actions they and their families should take.

The dean of students office will provide letters for all impacted students affirming their good standing as students of the college, if desired.

Public Safety will not participate in immigration enforcement actions conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Our resources are limited and such enforcement is not part of their mission, duties or philosophy.

We will continue to support our DACA students financially with renewal fees and emergency grant funding for immigration-related costs, if asked.

We do not keep a list of DACA or undocumented students, and there is no current law that requires the college to share the immigration status of students. Student’s immigration status is confidential, and should not be shared.

Our counseling center is available to help with issues that may arise and has after-hours support available when the office is closed. Call 802-443-5141.

Our DACA and undocumented students have been model citizens and have contributed in innumerable ways to our institution’s intellectual and social community. We stand with these Dreamers and honor their commitment to improve their lives through the pursuit of higher education and employment, as well as their desire to remain in the country and the communities where they have grown up.

Miguel Fernández is the chief diversity officer at Middlebury.

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