Message from President David Chard regarding DACA

September 09, 2017

Wheelock President David Chard issued the following letter to the Wheelock community on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Dear Wheelock Community,

Since the decision on Tuesday by the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, I have been thinking about the implications of this decision for the students, staff, and faculty of Wheelock College and the communities with whom we serve. Of course, on a professional and personal level, I'm concerned about this change in policy, and I support family, friends, and colleagues who may be impacted.

The potential negative outcomes of this decision are contradictory to the values reflected in Wheelock's mission and our nearly 130 years of work as an educational institution. Additionally, on a day-to-day basis, the immigration status of our students is immaterial. We do not ask for documentation of citizenship and do not intend to change this practice. We are one Wheelock and are committed to the success of all of our scholars who seek to achieve their personal and professional goals.

I do believe it is important that as a community focused on improving the lives of children and families, we understand the broader historical context of DACA, President Barack Obama's motivation for making it an executive order, and how ending DACA could impact the families with whom we work. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202) held that it was unconstitutional for states to deny funding for public education or to charge tuition for children who were brought to the U.S. by their undocumented families. Specifically, this case recognized that any state restriction of rights of these children based on their immigration status - something that was out of their control - must meet an elevated level of scrutiny: substantial government interest. This case set off considerable debate. The Supreme Court stopped short of extending any protection beyond K-12 education.

Exactly thirty years after Plyler, and after multiple failed attempts by Congress to create comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama issued the DACA policy in 2012, which would help young adults avoid deportation and stipulated they could renew work permits every two years contingent on good behavior. This policy, of course, not only kept families together but offered Dreamers the chance to seek opportunities in higher education and employment, and to contribute meaningfully as members of society. Further, there is evidence that DACA has resulted in many positive benefits including increasing the education and employment of Dreamers, and decreasing the mental health concerns of unauthorized immigrants.

What seems clear is that DACA was meant to be temporary until our government could reach a more permanent solution to address immigration reform. In light of the current administration's decision to suspend DACA, I believe Wheelock students should know how this will impact the communities in which we live, learn, and work.

Please take advantage of opportunities to learn more about these policy changes from our faculty and colleagues from other institutions. Please see below for information on a panel event on Monday, Sept. 11, as well as resources for informing your work with children and families which I encourage you to share with others.

Pathway to Law Panel Discussion on Immigration Law

Where and When: Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, 6-7:30 p.m., Alumni Room (3rd Floor ACE)

Join professionals from the field and professors of immigration law as we discuss a topic that receives worldwide attention. The topic of immigration law, its policies, procedures, and practices will be discussed, debated, and examined. This event will help to further clarify and evaluate your position on immigration law, as well as hear the perspectives of others. A chance to meet and greet with panelists will follow after the Q&A portion of the event.

Panelists include:

Professor William Rodriguez
Faculty Advisor for the Pathway to Law Experience
Chair of Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Department
Wheelock College

Professor Irene Scharf
Director of Immigration Litigation Clinic
University of Massachusetts School of Law

Professor Deborah Gonzalez
Director of the Immigration Law Clinic
Roger Williams University School of Law

You can register here: https://forms.wheelock.edu/forms/register-pathway-events/.

Other resources

Boston Public Schools Resources for Supporting Immigrant Families

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance Program

Affinity Magazine's Guide for Supporting Dreamers

The Dream Act Toolkit for supporting legislative action

Immigrants and immigration policy have shaped Wheelock College since the late 1880s when Lucy Wheelock worked in immigrant communities to improve the lives of children and their families. Through our mission and your education, we will continue to support these communities today and in the future.

Sincerely,

David J. Chard, Ph.D.
President

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