VCU Pres. Michael Rao said the university stands by its DACA recipients as the university looks at its next steps following the Trump administration’s announcement it will end the program.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday stated the administration will, in six months, end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented students brought to the United States at a young age from deportation. The decision, Rao said, “leaves us with many unknowns.”
— VCU SGA (@VCUSGA) September 5, 2017
“We remain certain of VCU’s unequivocal support of our DACA students,” Rao said. “DACA students are an integral part of our community, and VCU will continue to assist DACA students as they complete their educations and move on to contribute to our society.”
Rao added that the university will continue to advocate for the program within its legal means as it reviews changes to the program.
Earlier this year, Rao joined more than 600 college presidents vowing to proactively advocate for DACA to be upheld. At the time, his office released a statement saying the university would “consider the legality and appropriateness of university actions to support and protect our students.”
Jessica Moreno Caycho, President of the Latinx advocacy group Plumas at VCU and a DACA recipient, said members of the group will meet with Senior Vice Provost Charles Klink Wednesday morning to submit a list of demands.
“We will continue with our promise of advocacy and action until all of our undocumented students are protected at VCU and so forth,” Moreno said in a Facebook message. “That means the black undocumented community, the Asian undocumented community, the queer, and disabled communities and all intersecting communities that live in fear of deportation.“
The VCU Student Government Association released a statement on Twitter reminding students of on-campus resources like the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Counseling Services and the Wellness Resources Center. The statement encouraged students to contact their representatives in Congress.
— The Well (@thewellvcu) September 5, 2017
“Our DACA students assist in cultivating a diverse and unique environment at VCU,” the statement read. “The student government stands behind all of its students.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in a statement called the decision “heartless and harmful.”
“It will hurt our economy, make our communities less safe, and literally tear families apart,” Herring stated, adding DACA recipients, “deserve better than to be thrown to the curb by President Trump in an attempt to please an extreme fringe of anti-immigrant zealots.”
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
A number of VCU students are part of the more than 12,000 who are being protected in Virginia. Those students now face uncertainty as to whether the program will continue as Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, suggested congress should pass a bill to turn the program into legislation as opposed to executive action. Former president Barack Obama initially started the program as executive action in 2012 after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act.
The issue took on a sense of urgency when 10 Republican state attorneys general in July gave the president a deadline of Sept. 5 to discontinue the program or face a lawsuit on the basis that it was an overreach of executive power.