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Associations Respond to DACA and DREAM Act Concerns

January 9, 2017

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, first initiated by President Obama in 2012, could be among the first policies targeted by the incoming administration.

The program provides temporary relief from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who have been in the United States since childhood and meet various residential and educational criteria. Because DACA is not a regulation or a law, it is one of the first policy areas President-elect Donald Trump can repeal or reform with his own executive order. Trump campaigned with a strong focus on immigration control. However, during subsequent post-election interviews, he appeared to soften his position on children and students.

Many colleges and universities took action to provide undocumented students access to higher education prior to implementation of the DACA program, but many students remain worried about the prospects of deportation for themselves and their families if the executive order is reversed. Responding to concerns from student and schools, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities invited higher education associations to join them in urging Trump to keep DACA measures in place. NACUBO and 25 other organizations supported the effort. The letter states, "DACA is only a stopgap measure, and what is needed is the passage of the DREAM Act and ultimately fair, just, and comprehensive immigration reform."

The American Council on Education issued a policy brief in December that helps to frame the discussion and addresses matters such as the data students submitted in their DACA applications; sanctuary campuses; institutional pledges of non-cooperation; complying with requests by federal officials for records identifying undocumented students or other community members; and other concerns.

The timeline for potential DACA action is unclear as Trump still is assembling his White House staff, cabinet officials need to be confirmed, and Congress largely will be focused this month on repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Institutions should expect to face a rapidly changing environment in this and many other federal policy areas.

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Liz Clark
Director, Federal Affairs
202.861.2553
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