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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston’s Stance on the DACA Decision

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Chancellor’s Office released a memo that announced the Trump administration’s plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA, which will be officially cancelled as a policy on March 5, 2018, is an immigration policy that was passed during the Obama presidency in 2012. The program grants immigrant children protection from deportation and a work permit that also allows them to attend schools in the United States. As of 2017, nearly 800,000 youths have been protected under DACA.

According to  the memo released by Interim Chancellor Barry Mills, there are currently 40 DACA students at UMass Boston: “I want you to know that UMass Boston is fully involved in all efforts to support our DACA students and their families, including connecting them with legal advice and protecting their personal data,” said Mills.

When the Mass Media asked Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino about the number of DACA students on campus, the number, she said, “is uncertain” and that there “could be more,” but that these 40 students are the only recognized students who have been identified as DACA students through the admissions office. DiSabatino said that in the face of what is happening on campus, she will always try to remain optimistic and she hopes that “Congress will do right,” but also has concerns. “What happens next if they don’t? We have to expect the best and prepare for the worst.”

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Steven Neville told the Mass Media that what is most concerning for him is how UMass Boston will help DACA students make “ends meet around school.”

According to the law, DACA students are unable to receive federal financial aid. If they were to receive extra funding, it would be through local scholarships. If students lose their DACA status, they are also required to pay out-of-state tuition: “Several of these students are trying to make ends meet for school. To me, this is an access issue” said Neville. “It’s courageous, that one, they are in school, it speaks to the reality that they just want an education. As a person who considers themselves an educator, I want to give it to them,” continued Neville.

According to Neville, the university is currently planning on fundraising money to assist DACA students who are struggling financially, but so far, the university has no concrete plans.

DiSabatino and Neville have confirmed that beginning on Thursday, Sept. 14, immigration attorneys will be available to offer legal advice to DACA students privately. According to Neville, two attorneys will be available for counseling every Thursday onward, especially if DACA students are in the process of completing their citizenship or renewing their DACA status by the deadline on Oct. 5. Students who would like to know more information will be directed to Neville.

A day after the first memo was released, DiSabatino called a meeting for Thursday, Sept. 7, where students and faculty were invited to review the kinds of action UMass Boston will plan to take on regarding the undergoing DACA changes.

According Neville, nearly 40-50 people were present at the meeting on Thursday and 10 of those were students, some of whom were DACA students. “Not a whole lot of students were there,” Neville told the Mass Media. “You know, they’re a little tentative to coming out and attending an event like that.”

Immigration attorney Annelise Araujo was also at the meeting to answer any legal-related questions. The Chief of Campus Police and the Department of Public Safety, Donald Baynard, was also in attendance.

“Many of the faculty of this university are prepared to go to the wall to protect these students and ensure that they are able to get the education they desire. That was important to see,” said Neville.