For the nearly 63 million Americans that voted for President Trump, last week was a joyful one. But for a lot of college students in this country – but not born here – the new president’s stance on immigration gave them pause and more than a little uncertainty about their personal futures.
The Trump Administration plans to “immediately terminate Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties,” according to his immigration webpage.
One of these amnesties is DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Washington Post reported transition spokesman Jason Miller confirmed DACA would be repealed. However, it is not illegal contrary to what Trump said; it was stopped by a federal injunction and the Supreme Court upheld the initial injunction.
Obama and the Secretary of Homeland Security initially enacted DACA to protect undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children. Under this program, people who came to the U.S. before reaching age 16 can apply to be protected from deportation for two years, subject to renewal.
In addition, those granted DACA are given work permits, a Social Security number and can apply for driver’s licenses on a state-by-state basis. Many requirements have to be met in order for eligibility.
By federal law, Plyler v. Doe (1982) entitled all students, regardless of citizenship or residency, to K-12 education.
However, attending college can be a challenge for undocumented students around the country because they are not eligible for federal financial aid.
Texas offers tuition equity, which gives undocumented and DACAmented students access to state financial aid at the in-state tuition rate called TASFA.
So, eliminating DACA means over 700,000 people would be stripped of their access to work, afford school, drive legally and more.
One Texas State nursing sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, was born in Honduras, and moved to Texas with his mother when he was four years old.
The nursing sophomore said he applied for DACA in 2014 when he was in high school. His mom had to hire a lawyer to go through the steps with them, and his application was approved.
He received state financial aid during his freshman year of college. However, the aid did not cover all of the costs so he was forced to pay the remaining costs out of pocket.
“I wouldn’t have been able to afford college without DACA,” the nursing sophomore said.
He said he is concerned that the Trump Administration might take away DACA.
“I’m afraid for all of the people who have DACA,” he said. “For those who don’t, I’m afraid of their families being separated. It’s something scary to think about.”
Instead of being able to focus on studying and homework, the nursing sophomore said he wonders if he will be able to attend school at all. The termination of DACA would more than likely force him to go back to Honduras.
“Honduras is not my home,” he said. “I don’t even know Spanish that well anymore. I know more English than Spanish. I have to go back to a country where I don’t feel at home.”
Although the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion has a webpage dedicated to informing students and faculty members about DACA, the nursing sophomore said it isn’t advertised enough.
In addition, SDI offers a program called S.C.O.P.E or Student Community of Progressive Empowerment, which aims to support and serve undocumented students on campus through memberships, meetings and programs.
The university offers Bobcat Dreamers, a training program that teaches students about campus experience, admission and financial aid for undocumented immigrants.
In addition, Texas State has a Dreamers Safe Office program where departments and offices can become a welcoming space for undocumented and DACAmented students.
Yunuen Alvarado, journalism sophomore, said these programs are beneficial but more can always be done. She has been protected under DACA since she was 15, and also had to hire a lawyer to help with paperwork.
“The lawyer charged us around $3,000,” Alvarado said. “A year and a half later, we didn’t have money for a lawyer so I did it myself. It was tough.”
She believes Texas State doesn’t have enough resources, and that an immigration lawyer should be available on campus.
However, she discovered groups that help undocumented immigrants file DACA for free. Alvarado trained for the clinic, and now helps others with the process so they don’t go through what she had to.
“Growing up undocumented is a lonely feeling,” Alvarado said. “There are organizations where people openly say they’re undocumented, and that’s refreshing and comforting.”
For more information on organizations that assist undocumented and DACAmented students, visit Texas State’s webpage.
A political science junior, who wished to remain anonymous, said she moved to Texas at the age of two with her parents with visas. Their cards expired but they chose to continue their life in America.
She is now protected under DACA and has concerns for Trump’s actions against the program.
“My biggest fear is how uncertain the future is for undocumented immigrants,” the political science junior said. “Hopefully there will be more immigration reform so undocumented immigrants can start on the path to citizenship.”
The anonymous nursing sophomore said undocumented people should be prepared for the worst, and adapt to the situation at hand.
“This is not something we haven’t experienced before,” he said. “Whatever happens happened because it was out of our control. If we have to fight for another right or hope for someone better to come along and help us, so be it. But all we have is each other.”