Students and administrators at Wheaton have been bracing themselves after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the Trump administration would be repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under DACA, nearly 800,000 young people, referred to as “Dreamers,” have been provided protection after they were brought to the United States illegally as children.
DACA has provided many undocumented youths the ability to enroll in college and to apply for jobs, allowing them to remain in the country while they apply for citizenship. By repealing DACA, the Trump administration hopes to provide information obtained about Dreamers to immigration officials in the U.S. This could potentially send thousands of college students back to the countries they left when they were children.
President Hanno was one of the first Wheaton College officials to comment on the effect the repeal of DACA may have on the Wheaton campus in an email statement sent to the college community on September 6.
“I’m writing today, in part, to register my objection to the government’s decision and to reaffirm the college’s determination to protect all the members of the Wheaton community,” Hanno wrote. “As I said previously, Wheaton will maintain the privacy of student and personnel records. This includes not releasing information about immigration status unless compelled by law or court order. Our campus police are not involved in the enforcement of immigration laws and will not voluntarily assist in such efforts.”
Students have also registered their opposition to the repeal of DACA. On September 16, many attended a protest on the Boston Common hosted by the Boston May Day Coalition, a pro-immigrant, workers’ rights organization focused on “bringing about justice for all workers,” according to the group’s website.
Samuel Mahler ’19, a member of Wheaton College Democrats, attended the rally with fellow club members. Mahler said that “America was founded on the principles of life, liberty and safety. DACA helps protect those rights for people who need them most. A repeal of DACA means millions of people will be relegated to second-class status, afraid of being plucked from the country they were raised.”