MARQUETTE — Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program instated by former President Barack Obama in 2012. But the repeal could have dastardly consequences for higher ed. ABC Ten’s Chelsea Birdsall sat down with Northern Michigan University’s President Fritz Erickson and a few students to get their stance on DACA.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, is an Obama-era immigration policy that protects minor undocumented immigrants from deportation. According to the New York Times, the policy currently protects 800,000 young undocumented immigrants referred to as Dreamers. The program allows Dreamers to live without fear of deportation and gives them opportunities to pursue jobs and careers as well as an education.
“The way DACA works is that students are able to come to the university so they come out of the shadows and to be enrolled and participate in the full life of the university,” said Erickson. “Making sure students have all of those opportunities is really important.”
President Donald Trump announced in early September he would be phasing out DACA protections in six months and urged congress to come up with a replacement before then. This impending rescission caused an uproar on both sides of the aisle, with the education and business communities joining forces with democrats and moderate republicans against the repeal. That support is present here in the Upper Peninsula as Northern Michigan University’s President Fritz Erickson signed his name in support of the continuance of DACA.
“One of the things we’re committed to as a university is being welcoming to everybody,” Erickson said. “Part of our expression of that welcoming is to be able to sign things and make statements. The statement that I signed that was led by Pamona College is really a reflection of that welcoming attitude.”
The document created by Pamona College in Claremont, California cites “moral imperative” and “national necessity” in support of DACA and has collected over 700 signatures from presidents of public and private institutions.
“I know my colleagues at the other 14 public institutions in Michigan all feel very much the same way – that universities are places of education, of free expression of ideas, and places that are really welcoming to everyone in our community,” Erickson said. “That’s why we came together.”
The document is aimed at the delegative legislation with hopes of encouraging members of congress to resolve the issue and ensure all members of the community are supported.
“It is an expression of who we are particularly at Northern,” said Erickson. “Here in the Upper Peninsula, we are a very welcoming community and this group of students needs to be as welcomed as any other group of students that we have on campus.”
And students at Northern are in seeming agreement with the President.
“[It’s] very important to stand with Dreamer students and I think NMU, president Erickson specifically, made a wonderful choice on signing that document, supporting DACA and supporting Dreamers,” said NMU College Democrats President, Connor Raak. “It makes us proud to go here.”
“It’s understandable – they want to look out for their students,” said NMU College Republicans President, Jacob Ogea. “You have kids that are brought to this country through no fault of their own and they’ve lived their lives as Americans even though they’re not technically citizens. You can understand them wanting to keep their students at their university.”
Though Raak and Ogea represent opposite sides of the political spectrum, they’re both in agreement that Dreamers should be protected.
“If you look at polling, the vast majority of Americans want their border secure and they don’t want to kick out those who haven’t done anything wrong,” said Ogea. “They shouldn’t be punished for the sins of their parents. The vast majority of our College Republicans, if not everyone, has those same feelings as well.”
“I hope republicans and democrats can come together and hopefully figure something out because a lot of republicans have said Dreamers and DACA have made their states better and I think they will come together, and they will pass something,” Raak said.