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Trump just removed DACA, here’s what that means for undocumented students

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Students, faculty, alumni, and community members participate in a university-wide walk out protesting the inequity of the UW back in May of 2016. Protesters demanded their voices be heard in an effort to end institutional racism and decolonize education for people of color.

It has been rumored since Thursday that President Donald Trump planned to remove Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and now what many nonprofits and undocumented people feared has become true.

The Department of Homeland Security said it will stop processing first-time applicants for DACA today. But DACA recipients, or Dreamers, who would’ve otherwise renewed their status over the next six months still can, but have to apply by Oct. 5.

When it comes to the UW campus, however, UW President Ana Mari Cauce — whose parents were immigrants — made it clear where the UW stands in her press release today.

“I want to reassure every affected [sic?] person that if DACA ends, the University of Washington will do everything within its power to minimize the disruption to your lives and education,” the release reads. “DACA has come to embody the best of America. These students have added so much richness, knowledge, courage and strength to our community and our nation as a whole.”

The UW has a long history of standing by immigrants, and it will continue to prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or any immigration officials to enter UW classrooms or dorms in search of a student. With a court order, however, UW students, faculty, and staff would have to comply.

Additionally the UW Police Department will not inquire about immigration status. The Seattle Police Department confirmed that it will not either, stating that they don’t want barriers for people to call police. While neither department notifies ICE of any arrest, the federal agency itself does have the means to find out on their own.

DACA’s removal will not impact financial aid provided by the UW, including tuition exemption, the state need grant, and the Husky Promise. This does not include financial aid provided by Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Cauce also said legislation will be introduced to the legislature that could provide financial aid to DACA students.

Rickey Hall, UW chief diversity officer for minority affairs and diversity, has been in communication with undocumented students to let them know about resources and support on campus. He sent and email out before he left for pre-scheduled time off.

“I am writing today to offer support and resources to students who might have questions,” Hall said in an email last week. “We share your worries and are here to help. As a UW student, you have access to resources available on campus and we encourage you to use them. We are committed to your success — culminating in graduation and a UW degree — which will be transformative for you and your family. We stand with you on that journey.”

Hall recommended undocumented students who are abroad should return to the United States immediately. He warned that if DACA ends while students are abroad, they might not be able to return. Those seeking to renew their DACA soon should seek legal advice, but have been told by the Trump administration that they will be able to if their current status expires within the next six months.

Other resources available to undocumented student include “Know Your Rights” cards and Leadership Without Borders. Undocumented students should also keep an eye on the MAP Scholarship.  Another resource students can look to is a faculty member, professor Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky.

Pindeo-Turnovsky expressed that she has been seeing honesty from undocumented students. They describe fear, disappointment, and anxiety for themselves, their families, and their community.

“Honestly, they’re taking a little time to have these feelings but then they’re back to taking action,” Pinedo-Turnovsky said in a text message. “They’ve been doing this hard work all along, including in the weeks leading up to today’s announcement. They’re committed to the fight against what I and so many others see as inhumane. Our students, our immigrant communities are amazing!”

Joaquin Uy, with the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, stated one way to help undocumented students is for companies, people, and organizations to raise money to help cover the costs of education, lawyers, and travel.

Arsalan Bukhari from the Council on American Islamic Relations said the Church Council of Greater Seattle is rallying together to create safe spaces for immigrants and their families in churches — a place where ICE will likely never touch because of how negatively Americans would likely react.

On campus, however, Magdalena Fonseca is the associate director for the Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC) and an undocumented student specialist. She also openly identifies as undocumented.

“My father’s boss sponsored my family to come up here,” Fonseca said during a Society of Professional Journalists UW Chapter event. “It was a very difficult, isolating period of time to go through. I was six years old when I got here. Back in the ‘80s, immigration was in full force. It was a difficult time to be here as a kid.”

Fonseca ended up running into a young lady at the UW who encouraged her to give back to her community. It was a pivotal moment, sparking the move to what Fonseca does now.

In 2014, Fonseca and the ECC director opened the first Washington immigration advocacy group for students on campus. But Fonseca said they try to help students as early as middle school.

Currently, her help for undocumented students gets no funding from the UW. Instead, it comes exclusively from the student activities fee.

“We can’t provide scholarships or emergency funding, but we provide a physical space that offers an opportunity for them to build community,” Fonseca said. “And we offer monthly workshops.”

She noted that a good amount of students have dropped courses in fall quarter before and didn’t come back to the UW due to this year’s political rhetoric. Some counselors and even faculty struggle to understand how to have conversations in the classroom about undocumented immigrants. Fonseca said some hurtful things have been said to students.

“We’re always going to protect our students,” she said.

Although Trump’s announcement is news the UW has dealt with these matters before. President Cauce and Provost Gerald Baldasty stated university policies and commitments to undocumented students.

Campus Resources:

Reach reporter Kelsey Hamlin at Twitter: @ItsKelseyHamlin

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