University presidents plan ways to help undocumented students

College and university presidents are planning for every possible outcome of the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Politico reports. The court in November heard oral arguments in three cases challenging the legality of the way President Trump’s administration ended DACA.

If the court rules against the Obama-era program, which allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country at age 16 or younger to live and work in the United States, the decision could disrupt the lives of 120,000 post-secondary students, along with recent alumni and university staff.

Related: Georgetown urges Supreme Court to allow DACA to continue >

Conflicting messages from government officials have made DACA recipients’ future situations especially hard to predict. Vox reports that Matthew Albence, acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has said that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement will deport undocumented immigrants if the Supreme Court strikes down DACA. However, Chief Justice John Roberts during the November oral arguments suggested that deportations would not occur, and President Trump’s statements on the subject have been inconsistent.

5 steps higher ed may take to minimize disruptions

The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia is a founding member, urged Congress in February of last year to pass permanent protections for DACA and Temporary Protective Status holders.

But in the absence of such a resolution, universities are positioning themselves to best support undocumented students, whatever the future may hold. Jose Magaña-Salgado, director of policy and communications for the Presidents’ Alliance, recently spoke with Politico about five ways college presidents can prepare for the DACA decision, including:

  1. Urging students who benefit from DACA to renew their status as early as possible, in hopes that their application would enter the renewal process before the program ends.
  2. Auditing their financial aid, admission, and tuition policies regarding DACA, to understand how funding streams could shift if DACA ends—and to devise alternative solutions, such as income-sharing agreements.
  3. Advocating for beneficial admissions and aid policies at the state level—for example, using length of residency as a qualifier for aid, instead of immigration status.
  4. Creating and connecting undocumented students with fellowships, internships, and externships that pay, but do not require work permits. Shifting away from work-study toward stipend-based aid also could help students adapt to shifting financial circumstances.
  5. Connecting DACA recipients with legal counsel to investigate whether they qualify for alternative forms of financial relief or income generation.

Learn more about Georgetown’s resources for undocumented students at

Politico, Vox
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