Standing by DACA students

Standing by DACA students

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Trump administration announced the end of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

President Donald Trump took to Twitter following this announcement, saying he looked forward to working with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to “address immigration reform in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country 1st.”

This decision, however, left a lot of people feeling both excluded and worried. The sudden announcement to end DACA, which entails a six-month wind down of the program, received quite a large reaction from the masses. People from all around the U.S. joined together to protest, banding together in support and solace. 

Grand Rapids was no exception to this, as hundreds came together in protest, marching through downtown. Here, many people felt inclined to share their personal stories and concerns moving forward. 

Juan Mascorro-Guerrero, a DACA student who attends GVSU, was one of the people leading the group in Grand Rapids. Mascorro-Guerrero, who came to the U.S. when he was eight years old, told Fox 17 he felt like he “was able to come out of the shadows” after receiving DACA. 

Many DACA students have expressed similar concerns, which has led many universities nationwide to make their own statement on the issue. 

GVSU President Thomas Haas sent out a university-wide email that same Tuesday addressing the campus concern surrounding the announcement. Rather than being vague about GVSU’s stance, Haas made it clear that DACA students are not without support on campus.

“It is worth reinforcing that Grand Valley State University has a history of providing a quality education with inclusion as a steady value,” an excerpt from his email read. “This is unchanged … It is our long-standing practice to admit qualified students without regard to citizenship status and to support all students pursuing a Grand Valley degree.”

Whether you agree with Trump’s decision to end DACA or not, it is hard to take issue with Haas’ student outreach. For members of GVSU’s community, the responsibility rests on our shoulders to make our campus environment welcoming to all. Regardless of our political views, this should include DACA students who are here for the same reason non-DACA students are: to get an education.

With Haas’ email statement, GVSU administration took the first step toward providing support and protection for DACA students in light of the program’s potentially imminent demise. At that point, what the student body needed to read was the university’s express support of DACA students, and they received it. Only time will tell what more the university will do (and will need to do) to follow through with this written statement. In the meantime, we can all continue to support these students in their educational pursuits at GVSU by providing them with the resources they need.