By: Steele Smith, senior writer
Wofford’s Campus Union recently decided to publish a resolution regarding DACA. Entitled Resolution in Support of Wofford Students Affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, this statement plants Campus Union in opposition of the program’s recent termination by President Donald Trump in September.
The topic of immigration has been continuously in circulation during 2017. While that discussion relates to the much larger historical context of America’s relationship with those who it has deemed to be foreign, DACA specifically centers around the protection of children.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, and provides a period of deferment from deportation action for individuals who entered the United States as children without immigration documentation. The some 800,000 individuals who applied and received DACA protection became known as Dreamers.
The DACA program has allowed numerous students to receive an education and pursue degrees at institutions of higher learning, such as Wofford, as well as gain federal financial aid and in-state tuition and scholarships.
Junior class Campus Union Representative Omar Elmore spoke about the inspiration behind the recent resolution saying, “Campus Union thought it was important for students affected by DACA to know that we, as a student body, stand behind them. Further, we felt it was important to show the rest of the student body that we do indeed have students here that are directly affected by the contentious piece of legislation.”
Many members of the Wofford community may be wondering what the significance of this statement is or of what importance of DACA is. In particular, DACA has been at the forefront of many debates on the issue of immigration in the United States. Many critics have blamed DACA for the wave of immigration of unaccompanied minors from Central America and for decreasing the availability of jobs for American citizens.
It is important to point out to these critics that individuals who arrived to the U.S during the “wave” of immigration in 2014, would not qualify to receive DACA benefits, as it is a program for undocumented immigrants brought in before age 16 who had been living in the United States since 2007. It should also be noted that economist have found that there is little correlation between less immigration and more jobs for Americans.
Part of the Campus Union resolution reads, “We recognize that DACA beneficiaries are members and meaningful contributors to the Wofford College community, and Wofford College would not be what it is without the contributions of all of her students, including those protected by DACA.”
Campus Union’s resolution is reflective of the widespread sentiments of thousands of colleges and universities as well as Wofford’s own stance on the issue:
In a recent press conference with the Old Gold and Black, President Nayef Samhat stated, “We have worked with South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) on a statement. We have worked with the American Council on Education, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities on supporting DACA students and calling for Congress to address the legal exposure.”
Having this dialogue on Wofford’s campus is important because it is creating awareness around a real issue in the United States. When students discuss DACA at Wofford, they are talking about people’s actual lives and their ability to better themselves.
“I hope that students will take the initiative to keep discussions like this open. If they disagree with the sentiment, write in to Old Gold & Black and voice that. If they want to have a debate about the merits of the bill, have a campus-wide event to discuss the idea,” Elmore explained, speaking on his desire for the Campus Union resolution to spark more conversation.
Voicing belief that students have the right to be outspoken, President Samhat said, “I think students should be engaged in these issues and should speak out about them, whether they do it in their individual groups on campus, through Campus Union, or through protest.”