Student-organized event presented information on status of DACA legislation in Congress.
By Willona M. Sloan
A student led teach-in Thursday night in the Marvin Center informed members of the George Washington University community about the DACA legislation and encouraged them to sign onto an advocacy letter authored by the GW Students for DREAMers.
Organized by Darcy Gallego and Cristian Vides, who are both seniors in the Elliott School of International Affairs, this was the second student-sponsored DACA teach-in this month.
Ms. Gallego said that, according to a Fox News poll conducted Sept. 24-26, about 62 percent of Americans say it is extremely or very important for Congress to pass legislation to address the DREAMers. “Now, it’s a matter of us, as students, as the GW community, to leverage not only our varying levels of privilege but to also use our voices to advocate for the protection of DREAMers,” she said.
Most of the questions from the audience concerned the current status of DACA recipients and what possible legislation might be passed by Congress.
Colleges and universities across the country are pushing for the protection of “DREAMers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors. These young people are the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was established in 2012 through an executive action by President Barack Obama, but their future in the United States is uncertain.
In September, President Donald Trump announced that he was ending the DACA program, effective on March 5, 2018. What this means for the legal status of this population is that DACA recipients can retain their deferred action status and employment authorization documents until they expire or are otherwise terminated or revoked. All pending initial applications accepted as of Sept. 5, 2017, will continue to be processed, and all other new initial applications will be rejected.
Mr. Trump has said that he created a six-month period before the expiration of the program to allow Congress to pass DACA legislation. While Congress has until March 5 to create a resolution, the political tug-of-war has left legislators far from reaching that goal.
Earlier this month, GW was among 19 universities to file an amicus brief in support of students participating in the DACA program.
Sarah Pierce, associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, provided an overview of the DACA program during the teach in and outlined the numerous and varied legislative proposals that are being debated, including the bipartisan DREAM Act.
Dana Weekes, a lawyer and lobbyist for the firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, offered steps for participating in advocacy efforts, including lobbying members of Congress. Ms. Gallego and Mr. Vides encouraged attendees to sign onto the GW Students for DREAMers advocacy letter.
“The intention of this letter is for you to become an advocate, and to go beyond changing your Facebook status, changing your profile picture, or doing random things on social media. It’s about taking an advocate role,” said Mr. Vides.
The group hopes to have 500 supporters to both sign the letter by Thanksgiving and use the hashtag #GWStudentsForDreamers to spread awareness.