Anyone who has scrolled through social media, watched news channels or read newspapers over the last year could hardly escape hearing about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) controversy in Washington D.C. and the political arguments it has spurred.
Still, the status of DACA immigrants remains uncertain as no definite protections have been passed in the legislature.
According to an article by Alan Gomez and Sophie Kaplan in USA Today titled “DACA was supposed to end Monday. It didn’t, but DREAMERs remain anxious”, this uncertainty could prove disastrous for DACA recipients.
The lag time between the Trump administration ending the program, and a California judge’s ruling that it was unjust to do so, led to further debate and pushed the issue into the Federal Court of Appeals of the 9th Circuit in California.
A massive backlog of DACA renewal applications piled up in the Department of Homeland Security before they resumed processing them on Jan. 13.
“That means tens of thousands of DACA enrollees may lose their DACA protections while they wait for their renewals to go through,” Gomez and Kaplan wrote. “And immigration advocates warn that they would be exposed to deportation if they are arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during that time.”
Even those DACA recipients that aren’t waiting on renewals face a good deal of uncertainty as decisions made by Congress and the Courts over the next year or two could be life altering for them.
But what does all this mean for DACA students at LCCC? Should they fear being turned in to ICE if DACA is ended or their renewals don’t go through?
“We don’t collect any information that would indicate whether you’re in DACA or an undocumented student or not,” said Judy Hay, Vice President of Student Services at LCCC. “Nothing in our application process would require you to disclose that information. If you’ve graduated from a Wyoming high school then you qualify for our services. I suspect we have students who are on DACA, but I don’t know and that’s on purpose.”
DACA students at LCCC should feel a bit more at ease knowing that the college does not want to, and is not able to, hand them over to federal authorities should DACA legislation change.
“We just feel that they (DACA students) are our community too,” Hay said. “Community colleges are here to educate the people in our community and those students, by their very nature, have been in our communities. Their families are in our communities. They went to our high schools. So we’re happy to have anybody that is a Wyoming high school graduate. I hope that students feel safe and welcome here.”
While going to college at LCCC isn’t a danger for DACA recipients, paying for college can be.
“One of the things that can be a problem for students is federal financial aid,” Hay said. “They do ask for information that would probably indicate that. It is probably common for DACA recipients not to apply for federal aid I’m guessing, but it wouldn’t bar them from foundation scholarships and things like that that we have here. We’re fortunate to have quite a few of those.”
Besides students at LCCC, there are also employees who could be on DACA and have similar fears. In this instance as well they can breathe easily that at the school they are safe.
“We do not collect information pertaining to DACA,” Dorothy Moen, a Human Resources specialist for LCCC, said in reference to the college’s hiring process.