Georgetown University lauds new federal regulation protecting undocumented students 

Georgetown University recently announced its support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new federal regulation strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a policy that has protected more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants—known as Dreamers—from deportation, authorized them to work in the U.S., and provided access to college financial aid since its implementation in 2012 by the Obama administration.

Related: The future of DACA at risk on its tenth anniversary >

“We welcome all efforts to protect the DACA program, including the Administration’s action yesterday, and we will continue to advocate for permanent protections and for expanding the DACA eligibility criteria for these young people and adults who have contributed so much to our campus and to our nation,” Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia said in the statement following the Biden Administration’s efforts to protect the DACA program from legal challenges.

Georgetown’s enduring commitment to undocumented students

Georgetown has stood firmly in support of the DACA program as it faced legal challenges, including a ruling last year by a Texas federal district court judge that blocked new DACA applications.

In December 2021, the university joined 20 other colleges and universities in submitting an amicus brief that urged the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Obama-era policy and to reverse the Texas injunction of the program. 

A month earlier, Georgetown submitted a formal comment to DHS in support of DACA and the department’s proposed rule codifying the program. The university also advocated for the inclusion of more undocuments students to the program and the creation of a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. In July 2021, DeGioia and the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which DeGioia is a founding member, issued a letter to the U.S. Senate endorsing the Dream Act, which would permanently protect undocumented young adults vulnerable to deportation.

DACA’s impact on Georgetown students

Both Georgetown’s amicus brief and formal comment included the stories of Georgetown students, whose names have been abbreviated to protect their privacy. DACA provided JMG, a graduate of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, the opportunity to work while he attended college so that he could afford basic needs. “DACA gave me a sense of safety I otherwise wouldn’t have had. This allowed me to thrive as a first-generation college student,” he shared in the amicus brief. 

However, JF, a Georgetown sophomore, says her future has been “in limbo” since the Texas injunction. Although she applied to the DACA program in 2020 as soon as she became eligible for its protections, her application stalled after the Texas ruling, leaving her unable to visit family or obtain a permit to work or apply to internships. As a result, her goal of attending law school is on hold.

In keeping with its commitment to the Jesuit value of cura personalis, or care of the whole person, Georgetown offers campus supports and student resources to help undocumented students access legal counsel and need-based scholarships. “These young people are integral members of our community,” DeGioia says in his latest statement, “and we remain deeply committed to ensuring they are supported as they pursue their education here at Georgetown and as members of our alumni community.”

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