Why we'll Continue to Support Undocumented Students after the DACA ruling

by Flavio Bravo

Without a doubt, today’s Supreme Court split decision on United States of America v. State of Texas (regarding DACA/DAPA) is not only disappointing, but frustrating. While there very well is some silver lining in a 4-4 tie not setting any life-long detrimental precedent, it is obvious that the Supreme Court’s actions have been anything but.

It will continue to leave the lives of millions of Americans in limbo, denying opportunities and multiplying uncertainties. With or without DACA/DAPA, however, we need to continue to support undocumented students, communities, and families. 

DACA is one of the Major Achievements of the Obama Administration

During the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program that would eventually permit qualified immigrant youth to obtain a driver’s license, protection from deportation, and a two-year work permit.

Simply put, DACA was a game changer for those who qualified. Particularly in regards to expanding employment opportunities for college-educated immigrant students, DACA helped shape campus conversations about immigration, education, and postgraduate life.

How we responded to our Broken Immigration System

In fact, DACA made it possible for Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine to become the first medical school in the country to publically admit “DACAmented” applicants and support them on their path to becoming physicians. In the spring of 2015, the Loyola undergraduate body voted to add five dollars to their individual tuition fees each year to support undocumented Loyolans who demonstrated high financial need but did not qualify for federal financial aid due to their immigration status.

To celebrate this victory, we partnered with JesuitSwag to create a line of apparel to support undocumented students as well as the great work of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Whether in Los Angeles, Chicago, or (my own home of) Phoenix, the message of “supporting undocumented students” never fails to spark a critical conversation around citizenship, migration, and what it means to live with this stigmatized status (at the very least, it’ll earn the wearer a double-take!). These are just a few examples of the ways in which colleges can respond to our nation’s broken immigration system. 

Small Efforts with a Big Impact

Despite the fact that Loyola’s efforts have been small, the significance of those efforts will still be felt. Unlike the epidemic of indecision and inaction that plagues our national dialogue, the Loyola community will positively impact the lives of undocumented communities each day. Even that double-take earned from a JesuitSwag shirt will have brought this issue to the attention of a complete stranger, and the gift of the sudden, unsaid acknowledgement that this issue is, in fact, important to at least one more person in their world

This is our opportunity to keep pushing and educating others to know and understand the situations that undocumented people face. Just as Pope Francis reminds us, we must work to build bridges and not walls. What this means is that we need to stop treating the hundreds of thousands of immigrants that would benefit from these federal programs as political pawns on a chessboard.

"Real Change cannot solely occur by Legislation"

This means that students, staff, faculty members, and administrators at universities nationwide can make in our own way, precedent-setting key policy changes because real change cannot solely occur by legislation and court cases alone. It gets pushed through by organized communities.

The stalling of DACA/DAPA does not mean we have reached the end of this movement. It means that it is time to double-down and continue to catalyze around this issue.

Photo: Joe Ravi, used with permission sion CC-BY-SA 3.0