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Immigration activists outside the Supreme Court

Photo by Scott Henrichsen. Courtesy of the University of California.

College presidents and higher education groups on Thursday widely celebrated a Supreme Court decision keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place.

DACA provides protections against deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children. Federal courts had blocked the Trump administration's efforts to end the program, which was established by President Obama in 2012, on the grounds that it was not following proper procedure. On Thursday, a five-member majority of the Supreme Court agreed, keeping the program in place at least for now.

DACA Lives for Now
Supreme Court rules that the
Trump administration's decision to end
the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals program was "arbitrary
and capricious." Read our
news coverage here

College leaders and associations representing a wide spectrum of higher education praised the ruling and in some cases called on Congress to act to make protections for Dreamers permanent and give them the opportunity to obtain American citizenship.

Below are excerpts of some of the statements, with links to the full statements.

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, chancellor of the City University of New York

The Court’s ruling avoids what would have been a disastrous move to end the program at a time when more than 200,000 DACA recipients, many from the CUNY community, are working on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 to keep us safe and our economy going. They are our family and friends, classmates and community leaders, who make us better through their diversity and strength of spirit. They are five current and former CUNY students who served as co-plaintiffs in the case, carrying the banner for hundreds of thousands of DACA participants nationwide.

Christopher L. Eisgruber, president of Princeton University, which filed suit to protect DACA

Princeton University filed this suit because our success as a world-class teaching and research university depends on our ability to attract and support talented students from all backgrounds.

Today’s carefully reasoned Supreme Court decision rightly protects DACA beneficiaries against arbitrary agency action. We welcome that decision, but we also know that the Dreamers’ future, and our own future, will depend on legislation that gives them a clear path to citizenship.

Pat McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, which enrolls about 100 Dreamers, who account for about 10 percent of full-time students

Today is a triumph for justice in America and the dignity of all human persons. Young people whose presence in this country is a result of their parents’ flight from violence and oppression in search of a better life deserve respect, support and every opportunity to succeed in American society. Opening pathways for opportunity and success for undocumented young people was President Obama’s entire purpose in creating the DACA program, and the program has been a great success for both the Dreamers and our nation. The cruel action of the Trump Administration in rescinding DACA caused immense pain and suffering among Dreamers who did nothing wrong, who have been striving for better lives for themselves and their families. The Supreme Court has rightly rejected the Trump Administration’s unjust and cynical political action.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, which enrolls an estimated 70,000 undocumented immigrant students

Today’s Supreme Court decision offers hope for some of California’s best and brightest students who were brought to this country as children and who contribute to the fabric of our communities and our economy. We will continue to fight for undocumented students and call on Congress to pass permanent protections for these students. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever that we as educators provide students with the tools they need to help protect our public health and our economic security. Approximately 29,000 DACA recipients are currently working in healthcare throughout the country fighting against COVID-19.

David Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges

The AAMC applauds the Supreme Court’s ruling today, which leaves the DACA program in place. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying individuals to contribute to our country in countless ways. We are particularly appreciative that the ruling will allow almost 30,000 health care workers to continue to provide care to millions of patients across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Reverend John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame

The Supreme Court ruled on technical grounds what we applaud on moral ones. It invalidated the heartless cancellation of the DACA program, which needlessly put at risk thousands who entered the U.S. as minors and who knew America as their only home.

Mildred García, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

It has been nearly three years since the administration moved to end the DACA program while claiming an interest in ending the plight of the innocent young people who were brought to this country as children. President Trump has on several occasions expressed a strong desire to end the Dreamers’ nightmare and offer them legal status. But the administration has undermined multiple congressional attempts to address the issue as well as [inflamed] partisan divisions in Congress that have stymied the humane resolution of this fundamentally non-political issue.

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

As Christians, we are called to care for those who are most vulnerable. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” There is hardly a population who better fits this description than young people without a legal home who need our help.

While we are both relieved and encouraged that DACA will continue to provide temporary protection from deportation to the 650,000 DACA recipients in our country, these young people still face an uncertain future.

The CCCU has supported a permanent solution for DACA recipients since the DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001, and we continue to advocate for policies that recognize the dignity with which God has endowed all people, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or place of origin. We believe a bipartisan, permanent legislative solution for Dreamers from Congress is the best means to provide a long-term solution for these young people and their communities.

Jose Magaña-Salgado, director of policy and communications for the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and a DACA recipient

As a long-time DACA recipient, today’s decision represents a shocking and unexpected glimmer of hope in an increasingly turbulent and difficult time for immigrant youth. The Court’s decision provides a desperately needed lifeboat for immigrant youth, such as myself, to remain in the only country we consider home, grow our roots even deeper, and communicates a resounding message: "We see you. You belong." It is my sincere and deep hope that today’s decision marks the beginning of a transformation of our nation’s immigration policies away from division and deportation and toward protecting all immigrants, particularly immigrants still vulnerable to our nation’s deportation apparatus, including our parents, [LGBTQ] immigrants, and black immigrants.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities is gratified by today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to renew their status. These are individuals brought to the United States as children, who know no other country and who simply aspire to live the American Dream. The White House’s attempt to target them is both a moral and a political failure.

J. Noah Brown, president and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees

DACA is of great importance to thousands of community college students throughout this country. We are relieved to see the Court has decided to keep the program running and allow Dreamers to remain protected. Community colleges are open-access institutions whose mission is to educate and empower students to achieve their academic and career goals. DACA is an important program that facilitates this mission, providing stability and economic opportunity such as in-state tuition for many Dreamers. This decision will allow Dreamers to continue their studies in the country they call home and, upon graduation, to obtain legal work and continue contributing positively to their communities.

Common App

Common App applauds the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold DACA. We believe that all students, regardless of their immigration status, should have the ability to apply to and attend college without fear of reprisal.

Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

This decision restores hope to the more than 700,000 DACA recipients. During a time when COVID-19 is already causing tremendous upheaval and an economic recession, this decision, although not a permanent solution, provides a much needed sense of hope and optimism.

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

While the Court ruled the administration’s process to terminate DACA was flawed, it did not rule that the administration cannot terminate DACA. Ultimately, the DACA program is only a patch on a deeply unfair and broken immigration system. What’s really necessary and long overdue is for Congress to codify protections for Dreamers, including work authorization and a path to citizenship.

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