By Samantha Bartholomew
With President Donald Trump’s latest announcement of his plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA recipients across the nation were faced with an uncertain future.
Since its creation, DACA has protected almost 800,000 people and allowed them to work and get their education.
The Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees met Oct. 3 met to introduce a resolution that will reaffirm the district’s support of DACA students within the California Community College system and urged Congress to act to provide immediate and permanent legal protections for DACA students.
With Resolution 04-17/18, the district will urge California’s congressional members to uphold the state’s values by pushing for protections that will permit thousands of California DACA recipients to achieve their highest potential.
“We are unsure of the future of DACA, but I assure you that we will continue to ceaselessly advocate for our students and for a legislative solution that protects our students,” Chancellor Michael Burke said in the statement.
The resolution was voted unanimously by all four of the present board members: Bill Hendricks, Mary Figueroa, Virginia Blumenthal and Janet Green.
Figueroa was quick to express her happiness with the district’s resolution.
“I like that we pointed out the contributions that the DACA community has given to the nation economically,” Figueroa said.
The resolution referenced a recent analysis conducted by the CATO Institute that stated that the elimination of DACA could result in the U.S. economy being reduced by $215 billion while the federal government could lose $60 billion in tax revenues.
“Conservatives tend to try to paint the picture of the lazy immigrant, but that’s just not the case,” Figueroa said.
With the passing of the resolution, Blumenthal expressed her concern over its wording, such as the use of the word “committed” as opposed to “convicted” when describing DACA recipient’s potential criminal record as well as making sure that the resolution covered those that were currently serving in armed forces.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, of the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States, 222,795 of them live in California.
The DACA program was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 to provide administrative relief from deportation to individuals who applied for and received DACA status from the federal government.
This is not the first time that the district has taken action to support their students.
In Feb. 2017, the Board of Trustees passed two resolutions that were issued as students and faculty expressed concern about what actions the district would take to protect targeted students from actions carried out by the Trump administration.
Resolution 38-16/17, entitled Support of Student Access and Protection, promises students that the district will not release information regarding their immigration status “without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order” unless authorized by the student or required by the law.
Resolution 43-16/17, entitled Support and Protection of a Culture of Care, was put in place to assure students that the district would “vigorously advocate at every level of government to protect our students and our system’s values” and that the district would not cooperate with any efforts to create a registry at individuals based on any protected characteristics such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation.
“The colleges of the RCCD remain committed to supporting all students and maintaining welcoming and safe educational environments,” Burke said in a statement.
Though acting on their own accord, all community colleges in California have been encouraged to pass similar resolutions by the California Community Colleges.
“In California, we don’t put dreams ― or Dreamers ― on hold, ” CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement. “The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status, and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn.”
As of Oct. 3, most of California’s community colleges have passed or are in the process of drafting a suitable resolution that will further reassure their students that their administration will fight for them.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Figueroa said.
The rescindation of the DACA program is an ongoing battle between certain states and Trump.
As of Sept. 6, a total of 15 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit with the intention of putting a stop to the removal, the announcement has effectively sent DACA recipients into a state of panic and uncertainty for what the future holds.