A host of higher education associations, institutional leaders and advocates are calling on Congress to pass legislation this year to provide protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“It’s time to remove the fragility that pervades the lives of Dreamers and provide the stability that will lift our nation,” Broward College president Gregory Haile said during a media briefing Tuesday.
Members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration are flying to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with lawmakers and make their case. Dozens of higher education associations sent a letter to congressional leadership urging Congress to pass legislation. The alliance also sent a letter about the issue as well.
Democrats have said passing protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children is a priority during the final month of the session. However, Senate Democrats need at least 10 Republicans to support the bill, which appears unlikely at this point.
This week’s push comes as divided government looms in Washington, with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in January, and as the DACA program is under threat legally with a federal appeals court declaring the program illegal. Current DACA recipients have been able to renew their status, but the federal government has not been able to accept new applications for more than a year.
Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, said DACA has been transformational for students and the college, but because of uncertainty surrounding the program following the court decisions, many undocumented students who would qualify for DACA aren’t protected.
“The uncertainty makes it difficult for students and institutions to rely on it,” he said.
Sorrell said passing legislation to make DACA permanent is common sense and “the right thing to do.”