Administrators Share Tools for Supporting Undocumented Students

September 12, 2017

University administrators explained the recent rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and ways to support undocumented students at an information session in the HFSC Social Room. Around 100 students attended the Monday night event.

The speakers explained the demographics of undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients, technical aspects of the DACA program and a timeline of its rollback, the history of undocumented student activism at Georgetown, and how students can be allies to undocumented students.   

“What we are really wanting to galvanize right now is the political force of Georgetown as a community,” said Arelis Palacios, the newly appointed associate director for undocumented student services. “We want to continue to advocate for this because there needs to be a more inclusive and permanent solution.”

Palacios said that in addition to her work supporting undocumented students on campus, mobilizing allies is crucial for finding a solution.

Scott Fleming, associate president of federal relations, said students can mail letters to their representatives or call their district offices. He emphasized the importance of sharing personal stories about students’ undocumented friends.

Over one thousand Georgetown students have sent letters to their representatives through Fleming’s Friends of Dreamers project. “We started this because we know members of Congress know our undocumented students and their family can’t vote,“ he said. “Getting these kinds of letters in their hands I think is very very powerful.”

Attendees could also sign letters at the event. “I’m signing both my letters to my congressmen and also will be getting a soft copy to send out to my colleagues in my program,” Dineo Brinson (MSFS ‘18) said, “so that’s 220 people that I plan to share that letter with.”

Brinson said she learned new information at Monday night’s talk and hopes the university will host more events like it. She also plans on discussing the information with Hoya Circles, a graduate student organization committed to issues of diversity and inclusion, of which she is vice president of outreach. “I think it’s important to bring this conversation to the forefront and have some training to offer to our membership.”

On Sept. 5, the Secretary of Homeland Security suspended DACA, which was established in 2012. President Donald Trump’s administration has said applications already submitted will still be considered, and recipients whose status is set to expire before March 5 will have until Oct. 5 to reapply.

University President John DeGioia issued a statement in support of undocumented students and announced the university would offer them free legal aid through a partnership with Catholic Charities.

“We will continue to welcome students of all backgrounds to our campus without regard to their immigration status,” he wrote in the Sept. 5 statement.

The administrators also directed students to the university’s undocumented student resources page for more information.

Image Credit: Isaiah Seibert

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