To the Mason community,
Today, the Trump administration announced that it will no longer accept applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and that it will phase out previously approved ones over the next six months. I am greatly disappointed with this decision that will have dramatic implications for thousands of college students, including many at Mason, and will ultimately have a negative impact on our society and economy.
Since it was established in 2012, DACA has provided 800,000 young adults who arrived in this country as minors—and who, today, are students in good standing and veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military and have no criminal record—temporary reprieve from deportation and permission to legally work, study and contribute to our communities.
DACA has become a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people who, through no decision of their own, ended up in the United States and know this as their only home. It offers these young adults an opportunity to learn, work and contribute to the United States, rather than flee, hide or face deportation to some country most barely know. It provides hope rather than despair. And it continues a proud American tradition of opportunity.
DACA also makes economic sense. Talented young people who can contribute to American society and help fuel economic development through their effort and intellect should not be cast aside. They should be embraced.
We estimate a few hundred DACA students, or Dreamers as they appropriately like to call themselves, attend Mason. Many of these students represent the best in Mason. They are some of our most accomplished, dedicated and promising young men and women. They are growing personally and professionally and making significant contributions to our community.
Without DACA, many Dreamers will not be able to go to college or they may not be able to afford it. In Virginia, Dreamers may no longer qualify for in-state tuition. Around the country, Dreamers were already barred from receiving federal financial aid—whether grants or loans.
We have and always will act consistently with our laws and regulations. But we will also continue to advocate on behalf of our students and provide whatever assistance we can to help them succeed.
In the coming days, we will seek clarity at the state and federal level about the timing of the announced changes and let students know how these changes affect them, particularly as they relate to in-state tuition.
Congress has an opportunity to take legislative action to protect Dreamers. A bipartisan bill known as the BRIDGE Act, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and supported by members of both chambers of Congress, would embrace the principles of DACA and allow our students to remain in the United States to study and work. I will join other leaders in business and higher education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council of Education, and other national organizations in advocating for the passage of the BRIDGE Act or whatever other legislative initiatives can provide at least a temporary solution for the affected young adults.
We will continue to collaborate with private organizations like The Dream US that provide scholarships for Dreamers to attend college and will try to identify additional private sources that can help them stay in school and achieve their academic goals.
We remain committed to the wellbeing of these students and will do whatever is within our powers to ensure their safety and academic success while at Mason.