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President Brown Signs Pro-DACA Open Letter

Counters Trump’s threat to kill program for undocumented youth


University President Robert A. Brown last week signed an open letter, along with more than 250 higher education leaders, urging the nation to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. The letter is clearly aimed at the incoming Trump administration, which has promised a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

“To our country’s leaders, we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded,” states the letter, which was also signed by the presidents of Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Northeastern locally. “This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity.”

“DACA is a program that provides some security for students who through no fault of their own were brought to the United States as children, so they have no direct responsibility for their status as undocumented immigrants,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer.

“It seems only appropriate that we stand up for these individuals, who are working to educate themselves,” Morrison says. “We believe in the premise that a vibrant community in which students can learn and mature is a community that has broad representation of people from around the United States and around the world.”

Morrison says she believes there is a small number of DACA students at BU, and that the exact number is unknown, because applicants are not required to provide information about their status at any point.

“The reason we care about DACA is that we are a University that is committed to having an open and welcoming atmosphere to students from across the United States and around the globe,” she says, noting that international students comprise about 24 percent of the freshman class. “We think of ourselves as a culturally inclusive University, so it is important to us that the DACA students feel that they are welcome and valued here.”

Trump has vowed to end the four-year-old program, which has protected more than 740,000 young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation and has issued work permits in exchange for registering with the government. Because President Barack Obama established DACA in 2012 by executive order, it can be reversed by an executive order from Trump.

BU has also provided a statement for administrators at its schools and college to use in communication with prospective students, especially graduate students, which says in part: “We are reaching out to you in the wake of the extraordinary and contentious presidential election that took place earlier this month in the United States. The results, as you are likely aware, have generated serious concern among many of our citizens and communities, because of the divisive and alarming language from the campaign that is still echoing around the country and the world. We want to reassure you that Boston University remains a steadfastly inclusive and safe community. As a student, you will always be welcome here, no matter your race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexuality, disability, religion, or national origin. We will never tolerate nor stand for prejudice, bigotry, or hatred of any kind, subtle or overt.”

The government lists 7,025 DACA approvals for individuals who listed their residence as Massachusetts, which makes the Bay State 19th on the list led by California and Texas. The top country of origin is Mexico, with 579,939 approvals as of June, and El Salvador is second at 26,742. Of the top 10 countries of origin, 8 are in Central or South America; the other 2 are South Korea and the Philippines.

Individuals may request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday, and have lived here continuously since June 15, 2007. They must either be in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or the Coast Guard. They must not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Building a border wall and deporting undocumented criminals top Trump’s immigration agenda, and DACA and the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship, were also targeted during the campaign. Postelection talking points issued by the Immigration Legal Resource Center note that it would be costly and difficult for the nation to deport more than 700,000 DACA recipients, but warn that “Trump is more unpredictable than past presidents, so we do not really know what to expect.”

“America needs talent—and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community,” states the open letter, whose circulation was spearheaded by David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College. “They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

Joel Brown, writer, BU Today at Boston University
Joel Brown

Joel Brown can be reached at jbnbpt@bu.edu.

25 Comments on President Brown Signs Pro-DACA Open Letter

  • Bruce on 11.28.2016 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful! Thank you President Brown.

  • Walter Suarez on 11.28.2016 at 7:54 am

    Amazing news and about time! DACAmented and Undocumented students at BU have to be protected. Students should worry about their next paper, not whether their school will help to get them deported or if they’ll be able to finish their degrees because of their status

  • Jennifer on 11.28.2016 at 1:32 pm

    I support this action.

  • Question on 11.28.2016 at 2:08 pm

    Why is it “ok” for people in the US illegally to take a spot (there is no such thing as BU, MIT or Harvard accepting all applying students) that may have gone to a legal US resident or a legal international student? Are the students in the US illegally receiving financial aid that could have gone to a deserving legal US student? While I understand it may be no fault of the student, how is this fair and equitable for everyone?

    • David on 11.28.2016 at 2:43 pm

      It isn’t that it’s “ok,” to take a spot. These are children who have the academic records to thrive at BU–it isn’t as if they’re taking spots. Rather giving opportunity to others. Students under DACA don’t qualify for FAFSA.

    • Dan on 11.28.2016 at 5:47 pm

      Because they got better grades in school than you despite almost certainly living under worse socioeconomic conditions, and universities care about that kind of self-motivation. Go study some more, sunshine, and maybe you can take back what is “yours”.

    • A on 11.30.2016 at 2:52 pm

      Agree with the comments below. And, what is a “legal international student”? You can’t say they both aren’t residents and can’t be considered international.

    • PolitiFact on 12.12.2016 at 10:41 pm

      Disadvantaged people deserve a chance. It is part of BU philosophy and what makes this a great university. People do not go for free, nor they get grades that they do not deserve. I am very proud of this university, teaching the college students what America is all about. Most of the people who get help from their universities like immigrants are the ones who go into the helping profession making limited income and helping others. I work with immigrants myself, I know.

  • David on 11.28.2016 at 2:38 pm

    I couldn’t be any more proud of Boston University.

    One small correction, as the late professor Weisel wrote, “No human being is illegal.”

  • John Butt on 11.28.2016 at 2:43 pm

    A humanitarian thought.

  • James Iffland on 11.28.2016 at 5:29 pm

    Kudos to President Brown for doing the right thing on this important issue. The entire BU community should feel proud.

  • Dacamented on 11.28.2016 at 6:00 pm

    I am Daca-mented, college 3.8 GPA, business owner, have been able to renew my DACA once and now Im hoping my 2nd renewal is not rejected via executive action. I and others have proved that we are Americans just as you are, this is our home.

    • Joel on 12.08.2016 at 9:48 am

      Are you a BU student? We’re looking for DACA students to interview. email me at jbnbpt@bu.edu. You can be anonymous if you wish.

  • Panino on 11.29.2016 at 12:05 am

    Thank you for standing up for what is right and just .

  • Dulce Garcia on 11.29.2016 at 1:11 am

    Thank you for the support President Brown!

    • Joel on 12.08.2016 at 9:49 am

      Are you a BU student, or do you know one? We’re looking for DACA students to interview for BU Today. email me at jbnbpt@bu.edu. You can be anonymous if you wish.

  • Logic Rules on 11.29.2016 at 8:48 am

    For the university not to know how many students are DACA projects poor oversight even though they say they care about DACA. I hope that the administration is doing a more thorough job than the government in performing background checks of students, faculty, etc. (DACA or non-DACA)considering the tragedy that happened in Columbus yesterday. Having a superb campus security is one positive step but campus are viewed by some as breeding or gathering grounds for radicals.

    • Allison on 11.30.2016 at 2:59 pm

      Why would it matter if students have DACA? Bravo to BU for not making them reveal their status if they’re not comfortable. Any “background check” that’s relevant to college admittance would have nothing to do with immigration status – but you’re clearly suggesting that this entire group of people is dangerous. I’m honestly shocked that a BU student (grad? parent?) would generalize in such a way.

  • Emma on 11.29.2016 at 10:28 am

    BU – the real story here is that DACA is not the answer. it actually PREVENTS these young people from becoming US citizens. It charges $500 to register, every two years, in perpetuity. ( and using the numbers above of 740,000 registrants, generates $370 Million dollars every two years? Is that true? Wow!) If you really cared about these kids as Americans, you would fight to create a path to becoming citizens once they turn 18, so they can VOTE and be part of our country.

    • Joe on 11.29.2016 at 11:48 am


    • Eris on 11.29.2016 at 8:44 pm

      What I don’t think they want is for us to have all the citizen resources. Like fafsa which I would’ve gotten 5600 dollars vs 600 that I am getting for school. Eligible for loans, car loans, mortgages with major banks etc
      Which in all honesty I’ve worked enough to pay tuition out of pocket at UTD and never needed a loan. If I could just have a guaranteed job i wouldn’t care if they gave me fafsa or let me get loans. With a job I can pay my rent, food, tuition etc. It’s all I need because I’ve learned to value every penny I earn. I don’t spend on anything that I don’t need to survive.

      • Joel on 12.08.2016 at 9:49 am

        Are you a BU student? We’re looking for DACA students to interview. email me at jbnbpt@bu.edu. You can be anonymous if you wish.

  • Allison on 11.30.2016 at 3:03 pm

    Way to go BU for supporting this program. I volunteer at a nonprofit that supports immigrant youth, many who apply for DACA, and these are some of the brightest, most interesting, most passionate young people I have ever met, even despite many of their tough circumstances growing up. BU would be lucky to have them on campus. – COM ’09 grad

  • Joel on 12.08.2016 at 9:50 am

    BU Today (me) is looking for DACA students to interview. email me at jbnbpt@bu.edu. You can be anonymous if you wish.

  • Ximena Roth on 12.14.2016 at 10:51 pm

    Thank you President Brown for using your leadership and influence for this matter! I’m proud to be an alum of this great university. Having served hundreds of DACA applicants through my previous work, I’ve witnessed the incredible accomplishments of these bright young people now given new opportunities.

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