On Monday October 16, President DeGioa moderated a conversation with three other college presidents at an event entitled “Dreamers Making a Difference on Campuses and In Communities,” highlighting the contributions of DACA program beneficiaries. Faced with considerable uncertainty following President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era policy that shielded many undocumented immigrants from deportation, “Dreamers” at Georgetown and across the country have turned to legislative advocacy in search of a permanent fix.
President DeGioa began the event alluding to what a “permanent fix” might entail, namely the passage of “bipartisan legislation…that includes all of the protections provided under DACA” and the creation of a path to citizenship.
Speaking directly to “Dreamers” at one point in his address, President DeGioa remarked that “our Dreamers are essential to our communities, you belong here.”
In addition, the event featured a speech from Luis Gonzalez, a Junior in Georgetown College whose story has garnered national media attention and become emblematic of undocumented immigrants’ ability to triumph in the face of entrenched obstacles.
Although reluctant about sharing his story initially, Gonzalez noted that after the 2016 election “he realized he could be an agent of change.” With an emotional plea for a “path to citizenship,” Gonzalez highlighted the importance of a legislative solution. Faced with the weight of being his family’s “only hope… to break the cycle of poverty” and the fear that his dream of becoming a teacher won’t be actualized unless the country becomes more accommodating to immigrants like him, Gonzalez’s story spoke to necessity of immediate action.
On the heels of an op-ed written by Dr. Angel Cabrera, Dr. DeRionne Pollard, Dr. Scott Ralls, and President DeGioa in the Hill released the same day, the four college presidents enumerated their list of arguments in favor of extending protections for DACA beneficiaries.
Dr. Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University, said our country would not just be failing Dreamers if Congress failed to deliver on protecting the program recipients, but “ourselves.” In fact, Dreamers’ economic contributions to the communities in which they resided featured as a core argument to extend protections for undocumented immigrants.
Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College, said there existed “a moral imperative, educational imperative” to address the “social justice issue” of our time, but noted that the country would fail at advancing its “own self-interest” if it elected to allow the protections DACA provided to vanish.
Whether Congress will, in the end, will shed its dysfunctional image and act out of a moral imperative or in recognition of DACA recipients’ substantial economic contributions to the United States is hard to foresee. For undocumented youth at Georgetown and across the country, anxiety prevails for now.