Resources for Faculty: Supporting Undocumented & DACA students

November 14, 2016

Dear Department Chairs and Center Directors,

On September 12, in conjunction with Brown’s commitment to attract and support the most talented students in the country and to remove obstacles that may affect their enrollment and full participation, we announced changes to the University’s approach to admitting and supporting undocumented students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. You can read more about these changes here

I am writing because of potential threats to the DACA program and the individuals it serves, including graduate and undergraduate students on our campus. This has created uncertainty and anxiety among our students and others in our community. Therefore, I want to offer resources for you to share with your department colleagues as they may encounter or have already encountered undocumented/DACAmented students who now find themselves in a largely uncertain situation.  

In terms of definitions:

  • An undocumented student is an individual who does not hold formal legal status in the United States (visa, legal permanent residency status, etc.)
  • A student with DACA status, or who is “DACAmented,” is an individual who has applied for and received deferred action, meaning they are eligible for a social security number, a stay of deportation and work permit, granted through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Obama announced in 2012 through an executive order. You can read more about DACA here.

Many colleges and universities nationally accept undocumented and DACA-status students, though policies vary in terms of the route of admission (international versus domestic) and institutional financial aid eligibility. Brown has, for at least the last decade, admitted undocumented students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and today undocumented and DACAmented students are enrolled at Brown, contributing in valuable ways to our community, both inside and out of the classroom. We also have a number of students from families where members may be undocumented, have DACA status, or both.

Many of our students are justifiably anxious that, in light of the results of the recent election, the DACA program established in 2012 will be rescinded. In fact, President-elect Trump has stated that among his first actions as President would be to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.”[1]

It is not yet clear what may transpire under a Trump presidency with regard to this program, though some experts advise that this has been a highly valuable program that would be difficult to repeal, with 750,000 individuals having received DACA status participating actively and legally in all areas of our society. What is clear is that the rhetoric and threats with regard to immigrants and undocumented individuals is deeply disturbing and destabilizing, particularly for those most directly affected.

Our students may come to you as their faculty and advisors for support, and I wanted to make you aware of the resources that the University has in place within the Provost’s Office, Division of Campus Life and Student Services, Dean of the College and Graduate School to which you can direct students. The University has asked the following individuals, in particular, to share their knowledge and expertise with regard to these programs:

  • Maitrayee Bhattacharyya, Senior Associate Dean of the College for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Shontay Delalue, Assistant Provost for Global Engagement
  • Marlina Duncan, Associate Dean of the Graduate School
  • Andrés Fernández, Assistant Dean for Student Support Services
  • Ricky Gresh, Director of Campus Life Projects

In addition, please direct students in need of emotional support to the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)  at 401-863-3476, or the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life at 401-863-2344.

Kevin Escudero, Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies, is serving as a Faculty Mentor to undocumented and DACA-status students. Kevin is working closely with our students and has offered to be a resource for faculty in need of any guidance or advice.

Finally, the First-Generation and Low-Income Center is hiring a director that will oversee support for this population, and will have a part-time graduate student staff person charged with, among other things, compiling a website to make our resources readily available and accessible.

As I stated in the September announcement, we enacted our recent changes to ensure that undocumented and DACA-status students who have oftentimes lived the majority of their lives in this country and apply for admission to Brown are treated fairly and equitably, and that as students they are able to benefit from and contribute fully to our educational community. We remain wholly committed to supporting these students, and want to ensure that you have the resources you need to support them.  

Please share this information with faculty and staff in your departments.

Thank you,

Richard M. Locke