Dear Members of the Ithaca College Community:
Despite months of concerted action on the part of educational institutions, corporations, lawmakers, and advocacy groups across the nation, the Trump administration announced today that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be terminated as of March 5, 2018. The decision to end this successful program will place the safety and security of an estimated 800,000 young people in jeopardy, and will do nothing to help our nation prosper and thrive. It is a decision that yields to the forces of bias over fact, and bigotry over humanity.
Most of the people protected by DACA have lived in the United States most of their lives. These “Dreamers” are attending school, or working, or both. They are contributing actively to our nation’s social, intellectual, and economic wealth. They are Americans in all but documentation. Yet, in just a few months, their lives—and the lives of their families and friends—could be upended by their deportation to countries they do not know as home. Our nation will be poorer if we lose their talent and grit.
I remain hopeful that Congress will enact legislation that protects these promising young people. Early signs of bipartisan support for such legislation are encouraging, but, today, I write not merely to express my hope that the right path will prevail. Today, I write also on behalf of Ithaca College’s leadership to express condemnation of the decision to end DACA; to voice support for the rights of the Dreamers; and to assure you that the college will participate fully in the advocacy efforts within higher education to ensure protection for these young people.
We fully endorse the statement released by the American Council on Education, which calls upon Congress “to act quickly to head off this shortsighted decision, one that will do great harm to our national interest.” I also have been in conversation with presidents of colleges and universities from the public and private sectors, and we are discussing what our next steps should be collectively and individually, at both the state and federal levels.
Ithaca College remains committed to welcoming and providing an outstanding education to all of our students, regardless of citizenship, nationality, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. I would like to remind our community of the following practices the college follows in order to ensure equitable treatment with regard to immigration:
- The college does not consider citizenship status in its decisions about admission or institutional financial aid.
- The college does not request any student’s DACA status, and does not track such information if it is disclosed by a student.
- Our Office of Public Safety does not participate in the enforcement of immigration law.
I want to assure our community that we will do everything in our power to keep those protections in place, regardless of the decision about DACA.
If you are in need of support or fellowship, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is available for students, and the Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff. The college’s interfaith chaplains are also available to anyone on campus. The Office of International Programs and Extended Studies (OIPES) serves as a resource for all students, including international students and those who have DACA status. DACA students are invited to join in the weekly conversations that OIPES holds for international students, or to meet with staff if they have questions or need guidance on how to navigate this latest announcement.
Ithaca College is home to students, faculty, and staff who hold true to respecting all people, no matter where they—or their parents—were born. And as a daughter of immigrants myself, I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a community.
I ask each of us to be mindful that this decision is likely to be deeply distressing for many people on our campus, who may feel concerned not only about their own vulnerability but about that of their friends, families, and loved ones. Please do what you can to support one another, foster respectful and disciplined inquiry and dialogue, and honor the humanity that makes this college and our nation so strong.
Shirley M. Collado