University President Michael Drake has been an outspoken supporter of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals since its inception. With DACA now set to expire in less than a month, Drake has met with several politicians to voice the university’s support for DACA, most recently meeting with Republican Rep. Steve Stivers in hopes he could sway support for its recipients.
In an interview with The Lantern, Drake said he’s made several trips to Washington since September to lobby with Ohio congressional delegation on the matter.
“I think I’m in D.C. next week … and one of the things we’ll talk about for sure will be DACA and higher-ed reauthorization,” Drake said Tuesday.
He added the conversations he has with the representatives in Washington are the same that he would have with students, and that he does all he can to show his support for the students who are impacted by the future of the program.
“DACA students are a part of our population, and it means a lot to us that they’re treated fairly and appropriately,” Drake said. “And these are easy conversations for us to have, generally.”
Drake said he met with Stivers last week and met with Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty on Monday, who represent Ohio’s 15th and 3rd districts, respectively, to make sure the two are clear on the university’s views.
Drake said Beatty is a “great supporter” of DACA. He did not comment on Stivers’ opinion. Stivers issued a statement Sept. 5 in support of DACA’s end.
Drake said he believes Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown “support us” and were in support of policies “favorable for the Ohio State University,” despite coming from different sides of the aisle.
“[The senators] know how I feel, so when we talk, we speak very frankly and open,” Drake said. “They represent the community more broadly than just the university, but they certainly know our position.”
DACA provides protection for children of undocumented immigrants, who are referred to as “Dreamers,” preventing them from deportation and allowing them to obtain permits to work legally. The Trump administration announced the eventual rescindment of the program in September, giving Congress a deadline of March 5 to come up with a solution to keep DACA alive.
Even if the program reaches its end, Drake said the university will do what it can under the law to help formerly protected students, and help lawmakers find a “just and appropriate solution.”
“If there was a law that said you can’t have such services, you know, we’re bound to behave according to the law,” Drake said. “DACA students have special challenges, and the reason we put together and have a person on campus and have these services available is to help them deal with their special challenges, so we will continue to do that.”
Drake issued a statement the day the rescindment of DACA was announced, and added his signature to letters from university leaders urging Congress and Ohio’s congressional delegation to reach a resolution to ensure the program remains. The Senate began immigration reform talks this week, though early challenges are already being faced, while the prospects of a legislative solution in the House are less clear.
Even while the university has dealt with the uncertainty of DACA, policies have been in place to support students currently protected by the act. Ohio State named Bowen Marshall its DACA liaison in August. He works with students protected by the program to help them understand the rights of those undocumented students. The volatility has forced some of the policies to change in the past year.
“We have local policies that we have on campus that we’ve changed in the last year, with a special representative to help them, and other things that weren’t the case a year ago, to make sure they know the services that we do have, and that they can seek those services without fear or with at least a minimum of fear,” Drake said.
Drake said the goal of the policies is to make sure students feel safe when talking to university administrators so the university administration can continue to represent the views of its student body.