As President Donald Trump rolls out various executive orders relating to the anti-immigration platform he ran on in his 2016 election, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals policy — a 2012 executive order favored by University President Michael Drake — is left standing, for now.
DACA is an executive order introduced by former President Barack Obama that protects people who came into the United States undocumented as children. If the person meets the qualifications, any action on their immigration status is paused, which could include deportation, for a renewable period of two years. Trump had previously promised to repeal DACA, but, during a news conference on Monday, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, said it wouldn’t be an immediate focus of the new administration.
“The president’s been very, very clear, that we need to direct agencies to focus on those who are in this country illegally and have a record — a criminal record — or pose a threat to the American people,” Spicer said during the press conference. “That’s where the priority is going to be, and then we’re going to continue to work through the entire number of folks that are here illegally. But right now the clear focus is on that.”
Ohio State students have previously expressed fear regarding DACA’s uncertain status. OSU, like many colleges across the country, has students covered under DACA, although the university has said that it isn’t aware of the exact number.
In The Lantern’s interview with Drake on Monday, he praised what he called “the incredible journey” that DACA-protected students make in their efforts to attend college.
“(Multiple university presidents) work together to determine how policy, federal policy, national policy, can affect things that are important to us,” Drake said. “This pathway to being contributors broadly in our society is one we want to enhance and not do anything to impede in any way.”
Drake also mentioned letters he signed in conjunction with other university presidents urging the then-incoming Trump administration and U.S. officials to support DACA.
“To our country’s leaders, we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded,” reads a November letter signed by more than 600 university presidents, including Drake, spearheaded by the president of Pomona College in California. “We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community.”
The staying power of DACA, however limited, comes as Trump rolled out other portions of his immigration platform this week. On Wednesday, Trump introduced an executive order calling for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move to make good on a campaign promise. The actual building and funding for the wall remain up in the air.
Set to be introduced via executive order as soon as Thursday is an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, and a month-long ban on all persons coming into the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, according to The New York Times. As a whole, the U.S. refugee admissions would be halted for 120 days as screening procedures are reviewed, and when the program resumes it is set accept a much smaller number of applicants.
Trump had previously promised a ban on all Muslim immigration and was critical of refugees, alleging they posed a heightened security risk. Trump walked back the Muslim ban, though the countries affected by the expected executive order are all majority-Muslim.
Although DACA is not going anywhere for now, Frederic Aldama, a professor in the Department of English who has publicly supported the program, said the unknown future of DACA is concerning for DACA-covered and undocumented immigrants.
“I am worried about (DACA’s) status going forward. But more importantly, what it’s doing is keeping our undocumented communities, our DACA kids, our families all in a state of paranoia, frenzy, anxiety,” Aldama said. “By keeping it in a state of limbo like this, effectively the Trump administration is keeping them in a state of fear and paralysis.”