Immigration
 

Colleges and universities facilitate a global network of scholars. From faith-based institutions to large research universities, students and faculty from around the world share ideas and dialogue, and contribute to a diverse global education system.

Colleges and universities across the U.S. want to ensure that Trump Administration and congressional efforts to change the country’s immigration system, do not adversely affect the many students, researchers, faculty, medical experts, and scientists that live, work and study on our campuses. These individuals add to the diversity and excellence of colleges and universities. 

H1-B Visas and DACA Students

President Trump was active early in his administration attempting to deport illegal aliens in the U.S. with criminal backgrounds, and impose temporary travel bans to and from predominantly Muslim countries in an effort to reduce terrorism.  In addition, he made a variety of changes to the H-1B Visa program to try and control the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

Initially, there was great concern (if not fear) throughout the higher education community that deportation efforts might target so-called DACA students.  DACA refers to individuals that came to the U.S. as children, and have registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established during the Obama Administration.  The DACA program provided qualified individuals a two year safe harbor from deportation proceedings and a work permit. Recipients of DACA status had to adhere to certain legal requirements, including travel requirements, as part of their designated DACA status.

On September 5, 2017, in response to legal challenges to the constitutionality of the DACA program, the Trump Administration announced it was phasing out the program.  DACA would end in its entirety in 24 months, with no new applicants accepted after September 5, the date of Administration’s announcement.  No current enrollee would lose DACA status for six months – giving Congress a specific time frame to address the plight of the individuals involved.

NAICU alerted its membership about the rescission of the program, and signed a community letter to Congressional leaders urging quick action on bipartisan legislation that would create a path to citizenship for the population known as “Dreamers.”

Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Durbin (D-IL) announced that they would take the lead in drafting new legislation that would address the rescission of DACA and the people affected.  While debate looms on what the Administration’s position is on final legislation, Graham and Durbin have taken the lead on other bills that would help the Dream population.

DREAM Act and Sensitive Locations

A 1982 court ruling made it illegal to deny access to a public K-12 education to any child in the U.S. regardless of immigration status.  While there is no similar requirement for obtaining a higher education, the vast majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. admit and educate undocumented students.

There is legislation introduced each year in Congress to create a path to citizenship for children brought to the U.S.  Known as the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), this measure allows children who arrived in the U.S. prior to age 16 to have expedited access to legal permanent resident status.  It also allows students to work, attend school, join the military, and be eligible for certain types of financial aid.

In addition, colleges and universities are among the nationally-designated sensitive locations, which have special rules and protections from deportation efforts.

Whether by Executive Order, departmental memorandum, or legislatively, changes to U.S. immigration policies will affect college and university students, faculty, researchers and scientists.

What You Can Do

  • Encourage your Members of Congress to support a bipartisan solution to the rescission of DACA.

Resources

  • Higher education community letter to President Trump urging the Administation to support DACA students.
  • Higher education community letter to President Trump in support of DREAMers.
  • College and university presidents' letter to Homeland Security Secretary regarding President Trump's travel ban.
  • Higher education community letter to Homeland Security Secretary on maintaining the United States as the destination of choice for the world’s best students, faculty and scholars.
  • Higher education community letter to Sens. Graham (R-SC) and Durbin (D-IL) supporting the BRIDGE Act. 
  • College and university presidents call for U.S. to uphold and continue DACA.

NAICU Contact

Karin Johns: Karin@NAICU.edu 

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