With President DeGioia declaring his “strongest support” for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Friday night, there can be no questioning that Georgetown joins a number of prominent institutions and individuals in support of the beleaguered program. With a decision on the survival of the program that permits undocumented immigrants that arrived in the US as children to obtain work permits and other official documentation expected to come this Tuesday, opponents and supporters of Donald Trump alike have tried their hands at convincing the President not to scrap the Obama-era policy.
Predictably, Democrats have coalesced in opposition to perceived Trump Administration efforts to undermine DACA, rejecting a compromise offered by Trump Administration officials that would attempt to sure up Democratic support of a border wall and increased border security in exchange for Trump’s support of DACA. Democratic Leader Pelosi declared, “Dreamers are not a bargaining chip.”
Opposition to the end of DACA and the hardline immigration policies such a move would entail also came from several distinguished Republican politicians.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and several GOP congressional leaders have expressed their reservations about the idea of President Trump terminating the program. Ryan, though critical of President Obama’s initial establishment of DACA through claims it was an unconstitutional “legislative invention,” told a Wisconsin radio host that he didn’t think Trump should end DACA because he believed it was, “something that Congress [had] to fix.”
Moreover, executives of some of the country’s most well-known companies have urged “one-of-their-own” to preserve DACA. Many have cited the positive economic contributions of DACA participants and a thriving, diverse immigrant community more generally. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for instance, extolled “Dreamers” as “vital to the future of our companies and our economy.”
For a President that relishes in defying convention, however, it appears the seemingly widespread opposition will be in vain, as Politico reported late Sunday night that President Trump intended to terminate the program with a 6-month delay. The delay of enforcement, however, would be an apparent effort by the Trump Administration to give Congress time to act. With the core conservative argument against DACA’s introduction in the first place being that it epitomized executive overreach, the fate of “Dreamers” now rests firmly in the hands of a Republican-controlled legislature.
Bipartisan bills like the “Dream Act,” introduced by Senator and Georgetown Alumnus Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, have been introduced in Congress as recently as July. Hope in a legislative solution may be misplaced, however, as many Republican members of Congress that represent deep red districts see inevitable backlash from supporters if they were to grant undocumented immigrants “amnesty.”
With the President’s final decision likely to create a political firestorm either way, it’s at institutions like Georgetown where the grassroots political struggle for immigrant rights will confront adherents of officialdom. After efforts to make Georgetown University a “sanctuary campus” began and faltered last fall, questions abound about the ramifications of Trump’s decision on political discourse and activity on campus.
The university’s administration, for its part, has demonstrated a renewed push to support undocumented immigrants on campus. The Undocumented Student Task Force has voiced its support for DACA, declaring its repeal “would be ill-advised and disastrous to many families who are currently employed in various professional industries across the US.” In addition, as The Hoya reported Friday, the recent establishment of the university’s first full-time associate director for undocumented student services marks a clear move by the administration in step with President Degioia’s support of an environment where undocumented students “can succeed, free from constraint or limitation.”
It still remains unclear, however, how the campus administration intends to respond if DACA is terminated and not replaced with a program that provides similar protections to undocumented students. In an effort to provide clarity to a situation that sees a campus administration clearly in support of a program that the current President campaigned on repealing, The Georgetown Review reached out to the appropriate conduits for undocumented student services at Georgetown Sunday to see what response, if any, the campus administration intended if protections for undocumented students were rescinded. Although no response has been given yet, one might expect the 6-month delay that President Trump to be a period of lively political activity and protracted uncertainty as all eyes turn to Congress.