By Blake Stewart
When the Trump administration announced in September the decision to rescind the Obama era executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the administration gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution. The expiration date set for DACA was Mar. 5.
The months and days leading up to the Mar. 5 deadline have been uncertain, followed with political battle in Washington and roaring protests led by immigration activists across the U.S.
With the Mar. 5 deadline’s passing, Congress has yet to make a successful bill pass into legislation. Members of Congress across the aisle have proposed several legislations that include a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients along with funding for the border wall, a promise made by President Trump during his campaign.
On Feb. 5, President Trump said in a Tweet that, “any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the DEMS seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
Two federal judges in New York and San Francisco took some relief off the Mar.5 deadline when they made a ruling that temporarily bars the Trump administration from ending the program, citing that “the administrations legal reasoning behind terminating DACA were insufficient.” The judge’s rulings ordered the Department of Homeland Security to continue renewing DACA applications until the lawsuits make their way through the courts.
Shortly after the ruling, the Trump administration requested the Supreme Court intervene in the matter, but declined to hear the appeal, forcing the ruling back down to district and appeals court.
Since the announcement of DACA ending, organizations like the Council for Christian Colleges and University (CCCU), a non-profit Trevecca is partnered with is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world has supported and is engaged on a variety of fronts to help promote a bipartisan, permanent legislative solution.
“We have supported other legislative alternatives; we support legislation that provides a bipartisan, permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and recognize the dignity with which God has endowed all people,” said Greta Hays, director of communications and public affairs, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
Trevecca has signed on letters with the CCCU to Congress that support a resolution that would continue the furthering education of DACA students.
“There is something nice about the CCCU having such an outspoken role in all of this and lets us know that what Trevecca is doing is not odd in the kingdom of God,” said Shawna Songer Gaines, university chaplain and assistant professor of worship. “We are not alone in this and are saying it is important to make a space for these students and to have a safe place to study in a Christian community.”
Trevecca’s student population has close to 130 DACA students that attend due to the Obama era program.
Arturo Prieto, a junior international business major, member of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce immigrated with his family to Nashville when he was three years old.
Brenda Ayala, junior social justice major is an enthusiastic activist that spends her time fighting for social justice and campaigning for worker’s rights with organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Nashville Fair Food Project and Workers Dignity. Ayala came to Nashville at the age of four.
Prieto, Ayala and thousands of others across the state have been able to attend school and work, but remain uncertain about their future while Congress attempts to pass a bipartisan legislative solution.
“People might think DACA is a political dilemma, but it’s not, it’s a human rights issue,” said Sofia Guerrero, senior education major. “We have grown up here and just because we don’t have a physical 9-digit number or paper that says were citizens already puts us in a box. Just being in this space and on this campus gives us so much credibility.”
University president Dan Boone stated that the university believes in working in the political realities and fully wishes to follow the law.
“At this point DACA is fully legal,” said Boone. “It’s important for our constituency to understand that we do not view the education of these students as national policy as much as missional. We are continuing to provide education to our DACA students, no tax dollars are providing this and is all done through generous donors.”
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