Georgetown reinforces its support for DACA

Georgetown University on November 29 submitted a formal comment to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserting the university’s “strongest support” for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—and a proposed federal rule that would codify and strengthen it.

In the statement, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia underscored the profound impact that DACA students, often referred to as “Dreamers,” make at Georgetown and in their communities. DeGioia also urged DHS to expand DACA program access and called for a more permanent solution through a pathway to citizenship.

DACA’s most recent chapter

Launched in 2012, the DACA program provides undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 protection from deportation and a chance to apply for college and jobs. As of last summer, Inside Higher Ed reported that around 454,000 U.S. college students were undocumented, and nearly half of those students were eligible for DACA.

Related: Supreme Court upholds DACA, protecting thousands in higher ed >

DACA was most recently challenged in July, when a Texas federal district court judge blocked new applications to the program and warned that a future order may also suspend current DACA recipients from filing renewals. The Biden-Harris Administration has appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to the hearing, DHS has created a proposed rule to strengthen the DACA policy, inviting the public to weigh in for a 60-day period before the rule is finalized. Georgetown’s formal comment details DACA’s substantial impact on students at the university, as well as those students’ extensive contributions to the Hilltop and their communities.

‘We are a proud home to Dreamers’

DeGioia wrote that Georgetown is “a proud home to Dreamers,” adding that “in the midst of uncertainty, these young women and men demonstrate extraordinary skills and passion to make America a better place. They are vital to our communities, schools, companies, and families. They deserve the ability to contribute their talents without fear.”

DACA allows undocumented students to focus on their studies without the constant threat of deportation and enables them to obtain the driver’s licenses and work permits needed for internships and jobs. These protections “are critical to ensuring that they can continue pursuing academic credentials and professional opportunities in service to their campuses and communities,” DeGioia wrote.

Urging broader access to DACA, permanent solution

Georgetown’s comment also requested additional measures to expand access to DACA for younger students. Currently, applicants are eligible only if they arrived in the United States by June 15, 2007. The university also called for application fee waivers for individuals with high financial need, and for the automatic renewal of work permits while extension requests are pending.

Finally, Georgetown’s statement urged federal officials to create a pathway for citizenship. “We have the capacity, and responsibility, as a nation to provide a permanent legislative solution to support our undocumented students,” DeGioia wrote.

Ongoing support and advocacy

The university’s formal comment builds on a long history of supporting and advocating for undocumented students. Guided by its foundational Jesuit value of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, Georgetown provides comprehensive campus resources and support for undocumented students. Among those, the university arranges for legal counsel and clinics, offers need-based scholarships, and maintains a full-time associate director for undocumented student services.

“Our support throughout the years is rooted in our deep commitment to educational access, and our conviction that each student should learn in a context where they can succeed, free from constraint or limitation,” DeGioia wrote.

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