The American Council on Education has urged members of Congress to pass a “long-time legislative fix to protect Dreamers,” according to a letter that the organization’s president, Ted Mitchell, says is likely the largest sign-on in the organization’s history.
Mitchell said the letter may be just one of several messages that various stakeholders sent recently urging Congress to take action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy since it was rescinded earlier this year by President Donald Trump. However, he said it was still important for Congress to hear directly from the higher education community.
“We are encouraged at the bipartisan support that has already been exhibited around the DACA issue and are confident that Congress will do the right thing,” Mitchell said. “But we need to keep the messages coming and we need to help members of Congress understand who DACA students are, the important role they play on their campuses, in their communities, and the country as a whole.”
Mitchell said he was heartened by the overwhelming response that the letter generated from college presidents.
“I think it speaks to the importance of the DACA issue and the importance of DACA students to our future,” Mitchell said of the nearly 800 college presidents who signed the letter, which was addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
Several organizations have pressed Congress for “clean legislation” on DACA so that it does not become tied to other legislative undertakings or priorities, such as the wall that President Trump has indicated he plans to build along the US-Mexican border. Mitchell said it is also the position of ACE that Congress pass clean legislation on DACA although the letter does not state so specifically.
“Sure there is always the risk that an issue as clear cut as this one will become complexified by wrangling back and forth,” Mitchell said. “I hope that this is one of those instances in which the clarity of the issue will drive a clear and unencumbered solution.”
Mitchell added, “There are plenty of things we would like to see done and there will be a time for those but now let’s focus on our DACA students and protecting them and their families.”
The ACE letter to Congress states that colleges and universities “have seen these remarkable people up close, in our classrooms and as our colleagues and friends. Despite the challenges they face, they have made incredible contributions to our country and its economy and security. They should continue to be able to do so.”
The letter points out, “If we are unable to protect these Dreamers, we will be shutting the door to an entire generation of individuals who seek to contribute their best to America.”
Jamaal Abdul-Alim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @dcwriter360.