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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
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The invisible issue

What the decision to rescind DACA means for St. Joe’s students

The Trump administration decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

President Trump then gave Congress six months to legalize the executive order, or it would be removed. DACA currently impacts 800,000 young men and women with around a dozen recipients studying at Saint Joseph’s University.

Some faculty and students at St. Joe’s have dedicated time to fully understanding DACA and how the decision to rescind it will impact the campus’ student population.

“The best thing for universities to do is to use their position of influence in city and federal legislation,” said Julian Zuzarte ’18. “They should take their words to Congress, saying these are our students, we exist because of [them].”

Zuzarte spent his summer researching DACA and Catholic social teachings through the Summer Scholars program. As a child of immigrants, the status of undocumented students resonates strongly with him.

DACA is an executive order passed by former president Barack Obama in 2012 that ensured safety from deportation for child immigrants. It is an umbrella of safety for both young undocumented students and for young undocumented workers, offering young immigrants protection from deportation as well as a work permit, which could be renewed every two years.

DACA recipients must have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday, must have completed some high school or military service and must have no felonies or certain misdemeanors on their record.

Immediately following the decision, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) released a statement in opposition of the Trump administration’s decision. St. Joe’s affirmed the AJCU statement by affirming the university’s stance as a sanctuary for DACA recipients.

“It’s a position of the AJCU,” said Beth Ford McNamee, assistant director of campus ministry, “[To continue] advocating for DACA to remain in place and asking that Congress pass the Dream act, so that there is no question about the statues of these young people.”

Zuzarte argued, based on his research, that Jesuit universities can do more. “Universities have a special position in American society,” said Zuzarte. “They can lobby and push for the defense of our students.”

St. Joe’s currently offers resources to DACA recipients on campus. After the announcement of DACA’s rescission, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID) created a website specifically for DACA students.

“We wanted to pull together the most current information that’s out there just in case people feel that the institution doesn’t support them,” said Monica Nixon, Ed.D., assistant provost for inclusion and diversity.

Unlike many Jesuit universities around the nation, the DACA student population at St. Joe’s is small.

“I think there’s more fear here,” said Nixon. “The numbers are smaller, so DACA recipients have been flying under the radar.”

Nixon argued that the new OID website makes DACA recipients, or any undocumented students on campus, more visible. She also noted that our Jesuit and Catholic identity should implore us to make the DACA recipients voices louder.

Campus ministry is also working to give a platform to students struggling with the Trump administration’s decision.

“We’re in the planning stages,” said Ford McNamee. “[Right now] we’re getting together and just chatting about how we can respond.”

Ford McNamee recommended that students should use the resources given by OID to educate themselves about DACA and to mobilize, like many did in February 2017 for the SJU March for All.

“[Students] should feel empowered to educate and mobilize,” Ford McNamee said. “[They] should feel free to stand up for the values that are espoused by the Jesuit universities and make their values known to both the campus community and to their legislators, too.”

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