Ohio State President Michael Drake said Wednesday the university has had a full-time employee in the Office of Student Life supporting students protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since last spring, a revelation that takes on greater significance due to the expected termination of DACA.
In an interview with “All Sides with Ann Fisher” on WOSU, Drake continued his unwavering and vocal support of the program that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children with their parents from deportation for a certain period of time.
Though Ohio State does not keep specific numbers on how many DACA students are present at the university, Drake said dozens of students would be affected if DACA was eliminated.
Drake noted the difficulties DACA students face in paying to attend college as they’re not eligible for assistance such as federal grants, but said the university tries to help them in whatever way possible by identifying support they are eligible for and trying to “help them help themselves.”
However, Drake said he could not comment yet on what Ohio State would do for those students in the event that DACA ceases to exist.
“There is speculation about an announcement that may come from Washington,” Drake said. “We’d have to see what that announcement was before we knew what liberty we had to respond and the way we could.”
Fox News reported Thursday that an announcement from the White House on DACA is imminent, and could be coming as early as Friday.
President Donald Trump promised to end DACA during his presidential campaign, but upon taking office, his administration decided to instead continue the program for now. The Trump Administration’s review of DACA, which CNN reported has been going on for months, has picked up in recent weeks.
Drake has stood by DACA since its formation, repeatedly championing the program and the individuals it protects. He, along with more than 600 university presidents, wrote and signed letters urging a then-incoming Trump administration to support DACA.
Drake was clear he does not like the idea of universities being asked to help deport students.
“Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing that we would have criminals, et cetera all over the country, but someone would say, ‘Well great let’s not look at them, let’s look at really enterprising young people who have worked really, really hard to try to better themselves and want to be contributing parts of our society and spend time and resources taking these successful people out of our society for no fault of their own,’” Drake said.
He said his hope is that it doesn’t get to a point where the university would have to take this type of action, adding that even Trump has called targeting those without criminal records bad policy.
During the interview, Drake took time to praise undocumented students he worked with while he was chancellor at University of California, Irvine.
“Because we have competitive universities they had to be at the top of their class in high school and then they find themselves in college to be among the brightest, hardest working students we had,” Drake said. He said DACA students are “really outstanding people who had overcome a lot and are really doing everything they can to contribute to the American dream, that’s why they’re called dreamers.”
The Lantern reached out to the university to identify the employee and was told that the point of contact for DACA students is Bowen Marshall in the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center.
An interview was requested but university spokesman Ben Johnson said they are not currently doing interviews on the subject at this time. He added that DACA students could find the employee’s contact information on the Multicultural Center website.