California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Universities Advocate for DACA with Theme Week

    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program created by former President Barack Obama which shields roughly 800,000 U.S. young adults, otherwise known as Dreamers, who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children in hope of greater opportunity.

    According to FOX News, Dreamers are allowed work permits and protection from immediate deportation. However, as the program may be coming to an end within the next six months, Dreamers are now struggling to prepare for the tremendous impact they will soon face.

    โ€œWe are 100 percent behind our DACA students,โ€ said California Lutheran University President Chris Kimball. โ€œLike anybody here, we value them and we want them to be a part of the university community. Itโ€™s going to get more and more stressful and we want to be there for our students.โ€

    Dreamers and DACA registrants have designated the third week of October as the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Theme Week. According to The Daily Signal, 114 college campuses are hosting DACA Advocacy week as a way of showing their support for these students.

    Of the 114 college campuses celebrating DACA Advocacy Week, Cal Lutheran is not one of them.

    Cynthia Duarte, the director of Cal Lutheranโ€™s Center for Equality and Justice, said she wants to ensure these students are getting the support they need. She said having a DACA theme week at Cal Lutheran is not as beneficial for students because of the universityโ€™s small size. Instead, Cal Lutheran is focusing on providing the resources and support so these students feel safe and welcomed in the community.ย 

    โ€œWe have a lot of support groups for our DACA students,โ€ Duarte said. โ€œA lot of what we do is informal because we like to protect their anonymity.โ€

    A student can be undocumented and not be under the DACA program. Most of Cal Lutheranโ€™s undocumented students are under the DACA umbrella so they are protected by the program. Despite this, Duarte says these students are still living in fear because of how others view them.

    โ€œThey are protected from deportation, but weโ€™re still living in a climate where some peopleโ€™s ideas about these students arenโ€™t supportive so we prefer to keep their status private,โ€ Duarte said.

    Duarte said several Cal Lutheran programs such as Student Support Services (SSS) are always available to these students if needed. Additionally, Duarte, along with admissions counselor Diana Hernandez, is in the process of creating a DACA Allies program set to launch this semester. The first training program is planned to begin in November.

    โ€œSimilar to other allies programs on campus, the main purpose of the program is to allow students to know they are welcome, supported and safe,โ€ Hernandez said. โ€œDr. Cynthia Duarte and I want to make sure students know where and who to go to for support throughout their time at Cal Lutheran.โ€

    Through the program, faculty will be trained and educated on the rights of DACA students, some of the issues themselves and their families face and the best strategies to follow to ensure these students are receiving an equal education.

    Duarte said there should be policies allowing these students to officially participate in the labor market in order for them to obtain jobs and utilize their skills following graduation.

    โ€œThey were raised in our communities and in our culture,โ€ Duarte said. โ€œThey are doing everything we tell our American students to do. Theyโ€™re being responsible and obeying the law and they want to get an education or go into the military. I donโ€™t see how thatโ€™s a person we donโ€™t want in this country because this is what we want in our young people.โ€

    Duarte said that as of Sept. 16 when DACA was rescinded, no new applications were accepted. The new administrative policy states if you already have DACA, your DACA and work permit will be valid up until the expiration date.

    Any student with DACA status who was within the renewal period had until Oct. 5 to renew for two years on DACA regardless if the policy gets rescinded in March, according to National Immigration Law Center.

    โ€œNot every student is going to be thrown off the roster in March,โ€ Duarte said. โ€œThe majority of our students who were eligible for a renewal did apply for renewal so they will have those two years, but we are now in a political limbo.โ€

    President Kimball encourages students to stick to obtaining their education because it will be the best thing for them moving forward.

    โ€œEducation is important. Itโ€™s important for life development and opportunities, but itโ€™s also a safe place for students. Immigration [officers] stay away from schools, at least they have so far, whereas in the workplace youโ€™re much more vulnerable,โ€ Kimball said.

    Hernandez said DACA allows for more diversity because it brings different cultures and upbringings to the community. It also allows students to continue their educational dreams.ย 

    โ€œShould the program end, it would be completely disheartening for students and allies,โ€ Hernandez said. โ€œWe, as a university and community, will stand with our students and continue to provide all of the support currently available to them.โ€

    Christie Kurdys