Preparing for a future without DACA

Adrian Broaddus , Editor-In-Chief

Last week, news broke about President Donald Trump deciding to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with six-months notice The program had protected 800,000 immigrants from being deported to their native country.

The news hit heavily with UTEP students throughout the past week. DACA students, along with organizations such as Education, Not Deportation, organized an event on campus to speak out against this program and signed a letter in efforts to meet with UTEP President Diana Natalicio to discuss what will happen with them.

“When I heard the news, I was really upset and wanted to give up,” said DACA student Melissa Martinez. “We can’t give up and have to join the movement. Fight for your rights because we’re here and it’s not because we broke the law. We were kids and this is something we deserve and something we’ve worked so hard for.”

University presidents from across the country denounced the removal of DACA and stood firmly with the DREAMers that attend their schools.

Rice President David Leebron was appalled with the decision and wrote to his students: “I was deeply disappointed to learn this morning of the administration’s decision to end the DACA program with six months notice for those currently enrolled, and immediately for those who are not.  I have written before to the campus community of my own strong views on this issue, and on the university’s official position supporting the continuation of the DACA program. Although the president claimed that Congress should take up this issue, he offered no proposal or expression of support for such legislation.”

Instead of rejecting the new policy, Natalicio sent a letter offering her sympathy for the students who will be affected.

“What we want to be sure you know is that UTEP stands fully behind you and your dreams of a successful future through the attainment of your UTEP degree,” she said in a statement. “Please know, too, that we will do all within our power to ensure that you have the opportunity to achieve your educational goals on our campus.”

Natalicio also suggested that students who feel nervous or scared to contact Dean of Students Dr. Catie McCorry-Andalis or to visit the university counseling center.

“UTEP’s Dean of Students office can direct students to on and off-campus resources where they can get assistance with any specific legal issues they are facing,” McCorry Andalis said. “UTEP offers a variety of resources and support to DREAMers including but not limited to counseling and psychological services, as well as academic advising and financial literacy. We also have a list of off-campus resources that students can take advantage of, such as immigration advising.”

She also advocated that the students continue to keep going to school and that they will do everything they can to help them.

“We continue to monitor the situation and support students in pursuing their academic and professional goals,” she said. “Despite the decision made on Sept. 5, we will continue to support our students in pursuing higher education.”

Jonathan Cereceres, a vice president of SGA, is one of the main activists in the new program, Education Across Borders. Although the organization was content with the announcement of SB 4 being temporarily blocked, he believes this will be a more important issue.

“But this, in our opinion, is a bigger blow, mainly because this goes across the whole board,” he said. “Truly these students are of no harm to the nation—91 percent have jobs, 100 percent don’t have felonies. These individuals are a complete benefit to the United States. The majority are good people. They’ve done nothing wrong and we shouldn’t be demonizing their parents. It’s something that’s hitting us really hard. We stand with DACA and stand with every single student that is affected by this.”

With the news, Cereceres believes that students’ emotions have been at an all-time low.

“One of the things we’ve noticed is a lot of morale has been dropped throughout the campus,” he said. “A lot of students are very fearful. A lot are responding strongly about this, mainly because a lot of these individuals themselves are the Dreamers. These are the individuals we’ve been talking about and trying to protect them. This is something that has rippled throughout the campus and it’s something that drives a lot of people down. It alludes back to the same feel that people had when Trump was elected. A lot of people were shaking in their shoes.”

Despite the news, he and his team will continue to help these students.

“It is a setback, but it means that we have to regroup and rechannel everything into a different avenue,” he said. “So far, progress has been made. The biggest detriment is the student’s mindsets. We’re telling them to reach out to the Dean of Students and the counseling center—I think that’s the most important thing.”

SGA will be having State of the University Address at Union Breezeway on Sept.13 at 11 a.m.