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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Students covered by DACA must be protected

U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5 that President Donald Trump plans on terminating the Deferred Action for Delayed Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado released a statement about Trump’s decision, promising the college community that she and the college will work to protect students covered by DACA. Last week, The Ithacan called for students to rally around Collado’s vision for a more connected college community. Supporting this vision means supporting efforts to help students facing adversity.

The community must also keep in mind that the college is a place of privilege. If anything, Trump’s decision should make students realize that higher education is not a right, but a privilege – and doubly so for students attending a private institution where the total cost of attendance is over $50,000. Not only that, but the student body is made of primarily white, upper middle-class individuals.

When events like this happen, it is easy to see them as abstract and distant. But the proposed end of DACA is not just an abstract — it will likely be a real action with devastating effects. It is imperative to recognize how fortunate someone may be that they do not have to fear deportation from the place they have called home since they were children. When we speak about these things, it is important to speak from a place of empathy and compassion.

But above all, it is crucial to do something and say something. Members of Congress have six months until DACA is officially terminated in March, which means they have six months to work and preserve the protections the program provides. Allowing that deadline to pass without any sort of uproar is simply unacceptable.

The student body must protect and defend those that are at risk with the termination of the program, in whatever form that takes — because there will be many things to do. Attend rallies that protest the termination of DACA. Contact congress members and tell them to preserve the protections of DACA. Be conscious of the fact that hypothetical discussions of politics are actually lived experiences of nearly 800,000 Dreamers, and make sure that others do the same. Be vigilant, be supportive and be vocal. Action must occur in order to keep these students here.