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BU Leaders Oppose Trump Shutdown of DACA

Congress given six months to devise alternative fate for program


Updated September 5, 3:40 p.m.: A prayer vigil for DACA students will be held Tuesday, September 5, at 5 p.m. on Marsh Plaza, led by the Rev. Robert Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel.

President Trump’s delayed unraveling on September 5 of a program that allows undocumented immigrants brought here as children to stay in the country is not “consistent with our highest ideals and national history,” says BU President Robert A. Brown.

Trump’s decision gave Congress six months to legislate an alternative fate for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was put in place by an executive order from President Obama in 2012.

“I am hopeful that…the Congress will achieve consensus on a legislative solution that is humane and inclusive, while addressing concerns about enforcement of our immigration laws,” Brown says.

“We will continue to speak up on this matter as we have opportunities to do so,” he adds. “We will not provide information about students who are undocumented unless specifically compelled to do so by a warrant or subpoena, and we will provide advice and counsel on a case-by-case basis to students who self-identify as undocumented and come forward to seek our counsel.”

The University does not track or keep records of undocumented students here, but “we also suspect that BU does not have many DACA students,” says Willis Wang, vice president, associate provost for global programs, and deputy general counsel.

“We do not seek out information about these individuals,” Wang says, “nor do we track those who have applied for DACA relief. We are careful about identifying those individuals who have self-disclosed.” Those who do disclose they’re undocumented and seek University assistance are given it in confidence, he says.

BU students with questions about the program’s status, or their own immigration status, may contact the University’s International Students & Scholars Office in confidence at 617-358-3565 or by email. They may also seek help from Marsh Chapel, the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, and Student Health Services. The federal government has a list of frequently asked questions about DACA here.

Announcing Trump’s decision yesterday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the government will stop accepting DACA applications. The current 800,000 or so DACA immigrants nationally, known as Dreamers, will be allowed to stay until their DACA permits expire, with those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, permitted to apply for a two-year renewal by October 5.

Trump also gave Congress six months to pass legislation determining the future of Dreamers.

As a presidential candidate, Trump promised to end the DACA program, but once in office, he found himself in a tug-of-war between advocates and opponents on his own staff, prompting the punt to Congress. That body and the Republican Party controlling it have been unable to agree on immigration reform in the past.

“We’ve been waiting for comprehensive immigration reform for a very long time, so the idea that all of a sudden Congress is going to act within six months is unlikely, to say the least,” says Sarah Sherman-Stokes, a School of Law clinical instructor and associate director of LAW’s Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Clinic.

“We have nearly 790,000 young people who have benefited from the DACA program, who are business owners, college graduates, getting master’s degrees and PhDs, and contributing to our communities,” says Sherman-Stokes. “They and their families are terrified and essentially at risk of deportation.”

In his announcement, Sessions described the move as an attempt to rein in executive branch interference with immigration law. “Prosecutorial discretion has long been an important facet of US immigration law and policy,” Sherman-Stokes says, “so the suggestion that this program is unconstitutional or illegal is completely erroneous.”

The LAW clinic currently has only one DACA client, she says, and it will counsel that person and any others who come forward about possible alternative avenues of immigration relief. “It’s a really difficult time to be a noncitizen in the United States,” she says.

Sessions was among the advisors urging Trump to kill the program, media reports said, while the president’s chief of staff, former general John Kelly, supports DACA and has sought a way to avert threatened lawsuits against the program from conservative states.

Last year, Brown cosigned a letter with more than 200 higher education leaders requesting that the government leave DACA in place.

Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of leading research schools that includes BU, urged Congress to pass legislation protecting DACA immigrants from deportation.

“I am appalled by this administration’s disregard for the lives of thousands of young people brought to the United States as children,” she said in a statement. “American in every way except birthright, they are upstanding individuals who contribute to their communities and our nation. At a time when we face increasing global competition, we should be embracing these hardworking and driven young people, many of whom are studying at AAU universities.”

Wang says that “the individuals registered under DACA are indistinguishable from many other hardworking Americans other than their birthplace, and they deserve support. Hopefully, Congress will do the right thing by acting appropriately and quickly to provide the needed relief from deportation.”

Joel Brown contributed to this story.

Rich Barlow, Senior Writer, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

18 Comments on BU Leaders Oppose Trump Shutdown of DACA

  • John Whalen on 09.06.2017 at 6:59 am

    Maybe if you could get past your blind hatred of Trump then you might see this as an opportunity to legislate what should have been legislated in the first place. You know like we learned from schoolhouse Rock. Obama’s action was illegal and gave these people no path to citizenship. Maybe instead of prayers you should contact your Democratic reps and tell them to start working with the president

    • Sesqahanna Lord on 09.06.2017 at 6:11 pm

      John Whalen -BRAVO!!! In Agreement!!!

  • Your conscience on 09.06.2017 at 7:16 am

    Congress has had since 2012 to take one of Pres Obama’s executive orders and make it into law. You know…follow the democratic process. We can’t allow any President to issue “royal decrees” no matter how noble the cause, because 1) it goes against the intent of our Constitution and 2) as we now see, the next administration can easily change, rescind, or even reverse such an order. So pray and demonstrate all you like, but maybe we should also be encouraging our Congress to do the right thing and pass a bipartisan version of DACA the President will be willing (or forced) to sign into law. Then if you still feel like praying, say a “thanks” to the One many of our founding fathers trusted to help them establish this great nation. Let’s also not forget our own civic duty to embrace immigrants and help them to assimilate. Or have we learned nothing from how we have treated our Chinese, Irish, Jewish, and even Japanese immigrants in the past?

  • Please on 09.06.2017 at 8:31 am

    Please. Just stop. Stop opposing everything trump says or does just because trump says or does it. The legitimacy of these complaints is even lower than the boy who cried wolf at this point. Your democratic freedoms are not nearly in as much jeopardy as you would pretend they are. A country has every right to determine who can and who cannot come in to live there. As long as there are countries this will remain true. I really wish you would stick to doing what you do best. Providing a good education and stay out of politics. It’s beneath you

    • Yes, please... on 09.06.2017 at 12:36 pm

      It’s nice to see all these positive comments for what the President did. I’m glad to see that not all of BU is full of hard core left leaning people. Let’s face it, our last President hijacked the democratic process. This is a righting of the ship, and now places the burden on Congress to do, or not do, it’s job.

  • DAWN EDWARDS on 09.06.2017 at 8:52 am

    What Obama did was basically defer action on the issue leaving his successor to forge a solution. That was not cool, brave or bold, it was lazy and cowardly. POTUS is asking Congress to WORK!

    • Sesqahanna Lord on 09.06.2017 at 6:15 pm


    • Bully on 09.08.2017 at 11:12 am

      Seriously? Defer action for a successor? What POTUS did was tell Congress to debate and legislate DACA so it might become an actual law instead of an illegal exercise in pencil magic where his predecessor left it. If President Trump’s action leaves anyone in doubt, a re-visit to a primary school Civics textbook might be helpful.

  • BU parent on 09.06.2017 at 9:09 am

    The irony of this is we clamor to send our kids to study abroad, to work in the world, to be global citizens, yet in our hubris we claim that successful DACA persons who are ” business owners, college graduates, getting master’s degrees and PhDs, and contributing to our communities,” would be TERRIFIED to leave America? The world is a great place!! Why would one be terrified?

    My issue with Daca is it is expensive for the student, does NOT give a clear path to citizenship, just kicks the can down the road. Trump did the right thing. Now let’s stop being so arrogant about America. The global community could benefit from having well trained smart business people return and add their experience to the country. (85% of Daca are from one country alone)

    • Dan on 09.06.2017 at 2:45 pm

      Whom do you think is going to have a better time: A Christian woman with American citizenship visiting Saudi Arabia, or a Christian woman suddenly deported there from the US with no citizenship, cultural knowledge, or fluency of language?
      An extreme example, but illustrative of your willful ignorance.

      • Dave on 09.10.2017 at 11:59 pm

        Personally I don’t believe, education system should be voicing an opinion. The people of that organization certainly can and should share their mind but for an academic place to say we are hard left or far right, is only turning off the people of the other side who are attending, want to attend I’d have attended and think great this is what my alma mata is now a part of. The object of a school is to teach how to properly have a meaningful dialogue and research the facts to see both sides of a story. But when a school or institution of higher learning takes a stand, tiring it’s name to a side it is setting up barriers against the opposing views and potentially blinding a generation to choosing their own side because if my institute of higher learning says it is the best then I should as well. As opposed to individuals.

      • BU parent on 09.11.2017 at 10:17 am

        According to the data I reviewed, there are no Saudi DACA recipients. I appreciate your extreme example but if these adults are functioning, there should be no reason to be terrified. It’s hubris.

    • Student on 09.12.2017 at 11:24 pm

      You can’t (or shouldn’t) really be comparing US students voluntarily going abroad with people that may be forced to leave the US and return to a country they may never have been in. Students going abroad are likely going to a place where a good amount of people speak English and where they will likely only spend a semester or a year. They will have the support of the university, as well as local staff in their host country. DACA recipients could be sent to a country that is possibly dangerous and where they may not even speak the language of said country. They won’t have the support of a university, and they can’t choose to back out after a semester if they decide a life abroad isn’t for them. DACA recipients aren’t afraid to leave America because they are afraid to travel or to be “global citizens”. They are afraid of being sent back to a country they have little to no knowledge of. Of course the global community could benefit from having “smart business people return and add their experience to the country”, but only if they want to and have the ability to do good in said country. Maybe their home country isn’t in a place that would allow them to put their knowledge to good use. I think the comparison you have used isn’t really fair.

  • Jen DiTomasso Jacobsen on 09.06.2017 at 10:58 am

    Thank you to my alma mater for supporting DACA recipients in this very uncertain time.

  • Dan on 09.06.2017 at 2:37 pm

    Donald Trump, in 2012, in his own words:
    “You have people in this country for 20 years, they’ve done a great job. They’ve done wonderfully. They’ve gone to school. They’ve gotten good marks. They’re productive. Now we’re supposed to send them out of the country? I don’t believe in that.”
    I guess that was before he needed to start pandering to a more… patriotic… demographic.

    • Ryan on 09.06.2017 at 4:25 pm

      But Trump doesn’t want mass deportations, he wants to protect these young adults. A flimsy illegal executive order is not secure, Trump made the right move by killing DACA and allowing congress ample time to pass real comprehensive immigration legislation instead of not doing anything about DACA and allowing a 10 state coalition tear the whole thing down immediately.

  • Andrew Wolfe on 09.06.2017 at 5:09 pm

    I am appalled by the predictable but shallow reaction to cancelling DACA. DACA was never “illegal,” but it was also not “legal” in that it was substantially legislative action from the executive branch. Trump didn’t make the DACA children hostages – Obama did by using them as a political pawns, and giving them essentially an entitlement not available to those would-be immigrant families who are conscientious enough to seek legal residency. The DACA parents, ultimately, are responsible for bringing them illegally into the US. Immigration law is a mess, but I cannot agree that DACA was a reasonable attempt to address those problems. It feels good to give a pass to people – is it 800,000 or double that? – but now this non-Congressional quasi-legislation has made effective changes by Congress more difficult, more complex, and more certain to entail needless hardship.

  • Nathan Phillips on 09.08.2017 at 9:47 am

    I’m proud of the stand BU leadership is taking to support DACA students. Unless you are indigenous, you are the offspring of immigrants living on stolen land. Before we speak on behalf of other children of immigrants, listen to some of their stories, like Paramedic Jesus Contreras of Houston, whose tireless work to save people devastated by Hurricane Harvey is now rewarded with the threat of deportation. Read Iraq War Veteran Will Fischer’s testimonial about the hundreds of DACA recipients who literally put their bodies on the line by enlisting in the army and are now are treated as criminals.
    This isn’t about law and order – its about trump pandering to white nationalists who want to preserve and grow white supremacy. It’s of a piece with pardoning racist Joe Arpaio, who brags about his sickening “concentration camps”. Its about trump following up on his “Mexican rapists and bad hombres” comments and his racist attack on Judge Curiel’s “Mexican heritage”. Its consistent with trump’s xenophobic and unconstitutional call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
    There’s a place on BU campus that has become special to me in this time when we must combat hatred and bigotry more than ever. Its the MLK Jr. (GRS ’55) marker in Marsh Plaza. Every time I see MLK’s face I’m reminded of two things he wrote that give me strength and hope. I get the strength to resist injustice cloaked in “law and order” from his letter from the Birmingham Jail: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”. And I get hope from “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”, because I see that overwhelming love and solidarity in the BU community for our DACA students that prevails.

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