President’s Message Regarding DACA, 9/6/17.


President’s Message Regarding DACA, 9/6/17

Dear Drew community members,

The purpose of Drew University is to educate, and our mission calls for the education of a diverse community of learners.  The mission also calls us to ensure that those learners add to the world’s good by responding to the urgent challenges of our time with rigorous, independent, and imaginative thought.

Our mission is thus in concert with a commitment to educate all students, including students who were brought here by their undocumented parents.  While it is my personal belief that our country should continue the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program uninterrupted until there is a permanent replacement for the program, this belief is also in concert with the University mission.

The world’s good—and this country’s good—will be served if “Dreamers” are provided the opportunity to be educated, to prepare for and be hired into productive jobs, to serve this country in myriad ways, including in the armed forces, and to be afforded these opportunities without fear of deportment.  It is unfair, and unjust, to use children and young people who came to this country innocently in the company of their parents as political symbols of a broader national debate on immigration.

Young people qualified under DACA must be attending school, must not have committed a felony or significant misdemeanor, and must not pose a threat to national security.  DACA students must prove that they were brought to the United States before their sixteenth birthday, as children.  Since DACA was instituted in 2012, these young people have been able to dream about a productive life in a country that they have known and loved, in some cases for nearly their entire lives.  If they complete high school or earn a GED while under the program, they can be afforded the opportunity of an education at Drew and other great universities.  This is as it should be.

As president of Drew University, I have previously joined with my colleagues in support of DACA, and more importantly in support of Dreamer students themselves.  During the past year I have signed a letter of support for DACA along with my colleague presidents, and I have endorsed a joint letter from a coalition of higher education organizations; I serve on two of their Boards of Trustees.  I continue to stand in firm support of the sentiments expressed in these letters.

I began crafting this message as I learned that President Trump decided to terminate the DACA program, pending Congressional action on the matter.  Many members of the Drew community have shared with me that they too stand in support of the young people impacted by this change.  I do not believe that this is a partisan sentiment.  I am heartened by what appear to be the beginnings of a bipartisan movement, represented by joint statements from Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) urging their colleagues to come to the table immediately to craft legislation to protect the nearly 800,000 young people who are registered under the DACA program.

It is my hope that community members will join me in using their voices to contact representatives in Congress to express their opinions.  I recognize that not all reading this will express the same opinion.  I hope that all reading this will understand that Drew’s mission calls us to add to the world’s good and to respond to the urgent challenges of our time.  I believe that this is an urgent challenge.

Drew stands in support of all of our students.  Should any student or parent reading this message feel the need for support on issues concerning DACA or other concerns regarding immigration status, I encourage you to reach out to my office and we will connect you with staff members at Drew who can in turn guide you to appropriate resources.

All are welcome in this place.

Thank you for reading this message.

MaryAnn Baenninger
Drew University