Brown president joins fellow university presidents in urging DACA’s continuation

Statement signed by more than 100 presidents cites the positive impact of students in the U.S. via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and calls on leaders from other sectors to join universities in advocating the continuation and expansion of the program.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University President Christina Paxson has joined more than 100 college and university presidents calling for the continuation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to remain in the country.

The presidents signed a statement, organized by Pomona College President David Oxtoby and released on Monday, Nov. 21, that cites a “moral imperative” to support the DACA program.

“To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded,” the statement said. “We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent — and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

The statement was written in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end the DACA program, authorized in 2012 by President Barack Obama by executive order. Since Trump’s election on Nov. 8, DACA-status and undocumented students nationwide have expressed concern about possible deportation under the Trump administration.

“We care deeply about the welfare of our community members who are undocumented or hold DACA status and continue to provide them with as much information as we can make available regarding the law and potential outcomes if policies change under the new administration,” Paxson and Brown Provost Richard Locke wrote in an op-ed published last week in the University’s student newspaper.

“Though we do not know what specific changes may occur, Brown will continue to support members of our community to the fullest extent possible while complying with the law,” they added.

Today’s statement aligns with a commitment by Brown in recent years to providing increased support to these students. Resources include guidance and support through a faculty advisor; services offered through the new First-Generation College and Low-income Student Center; the elimination of the distinction between domestic applicants and undocumented and DACA-status students in the admission process; and a pledge to continue to meet 100 percent of these students’ demonstrated financial need at Brown.

Since the election, Brown has committed to bringing legal experts to campus to advise students, faculty members and staff members of their rights, responsibilities and potential options. The University will continue to assist current students in applying for DACA status or renewal if they choose — including providing financial assistance if needed — allowing them to pursue eligibility for a Social Security Number, a stay of deportation and work authorization. 

“In the days and weeks ahead, we will work with elected officials locally and nationally to understand any potential policy changes or legislative efforts, to advocate for maintaining the DACA program and to promote policies that are fair and supportive of our students and their families,” Paxson and Locke wrote in the Brown Daily Herald op-ed, which followed requests from students, employees and alumni to protect undocumented members of the Brown community from deportation.

“Threats of deportation personally affect many individuals at Brown, their friends and families, and as a result our entire campus. We are fully dedicated to continuing to work with affected members of our community in the coming months to ensure their safety and security.”

Written to implore elected officials to uphold the DACA program, the statement published today by college and university presidents across the country also urged business, civic, religious and nonprofit leaders to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented students, arguing that these students have “highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities” and “are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.”

Brown officials will send today’s statement to Rhode Island’s congressional delegation and state legislative leaders, as well as to Gov. Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.