Lucille DiNaro-News Editor
President Donald Trump’s recent decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has left Rhode Island College students and faculty struggling to navigate the political and moral turmoil.
DACA, which provides temporary protection from deportation to minors brought to the United States as children, has been slated to be revoked with no clear path to reform. With the future of DACA recipients unclear, over 30 RIC faculty members have drafted a letter to RIC President Frank Sánchez requesting campus wide protection and support for students regardless of documentation.
President Sanchez’s campus-wide email, sent on Sept. 5, which refrained from taking a definite stance on the issue, stated that “Rhode Island College will continue to follow state and federal law.” Followed by the commitment to “uphold our mission to provide educational opportunities to all students, notwithstanding the circumstances that brought them to the United States.”
Anna Cano-Morales, Associate Vice President of Community, Equity and Diversity asserts that “unless Congress makes it illegal, we will continue to offer public higher education regardless of status.” When asked if RIC will financially support DACA recipients should their working permits be revoked, she noted that there are Presidential Scholarships that could possibly be redirected to these students. The Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities, located in Providence, also provides financial aid through their ongoing online fundraiser. Anyone is free to donate at casori.org.
With less than three weeks remaining to renew DACA applications and submit the $495 application fee, questions regarding the renewal process, finances, healthcare and employment are left unanswered. The intent of the letter is to push the administration to satisfy the need for increased competency as soon as possible in order to meet the rolling deadline set by Trump.
Dr. Robyn Linde, a Political Science Professor at RIC, is disgruntled by the lack of professional support on campus regarding these issues. Considering the gravity of the situation at hand, faculty hope to provide a permanent resource to students who are otherwise driven into silence, fearing the consequences of disclosing too much personal information.
Cano-Morales shared the same sentiment. “It isn’t about the students who are on campus here who may be affected, it’s everybody around them, the uncertainty and living in fear. Being an invisible community is not acceptable. Whatever that invisible community is, you belong here.”
While the most recent census from Office of Student Success reports a total of six RIC students who are DACA recipients, they are not the only affected by the recent policy decision. There are 1,299 Rhode Islanders who currently benefit from DACA; several of them probable family members and friends of the growing Latino community on campus.
RIC students across campus struggle to rationalize the pending removal of DACA. Anthony Hernandes, a third year student, notes that “people are being ripped away from their freedom when they were promised to be able to stay here. They were promised a new life. That’s why people come here. All of a sudden, that’s all gone.”
First year student Rayeily Castillo asks,“who is benefitting from the removal of DACA? We’re treating these people like numbers but these people have lives.”
At a federal level, a judge in the Northern District Court of Illinois, Judge Harry D. Leinenweber, has issued a temporary national injunction in the face of the Justice Department’s threats to pull funding or grants from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with immigration authorities, though it stands to be seen if that ruling will extend to state schools such as our campus. The injunction will prevent the withholding of grant money until the lawsuit is finalized, a decision which could still be months away.