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Editorial: Other universities need to start following UC’s lead in the fight for Dreamers

By Editorial Board

Oct. 2, 2019 10:26 pm

A dream is just a dream until you make it a reality.

But sometimes making a reality includes suing the federal government in court.

The University of California filed a brief Friday challenging the removal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which stated the Donald Trump administration’s decision was illegal and without valid cause. This brief marks yet another move by the UC to challenge the Trump administration in court on this issue – and according to UC President Janet Napolitano, it will not be the last one.

Napolitano said the UC does not take suing the federal government lightly. But of all the times for a public institution to step up for its students, it’s now – and the UC knows it.

All the while, other universities haven’t caught on.

While the UC has been doing righteous work in supporting these students, they are not the only ones who should be doing so. Public universities across the nation have a responsibility to their students to fight back against an administration dead set on denying Dreamers an education promised to them. DACA students are often part of an academic backbone of public universities – and these behemoths of academia often have the power and resources their students lack access to.

This should be a win-win – for Dreamers and their universities alike.

Since the initial attack on DACA, Princeton University is the only other university in the nation that has sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security outside of the UC. In a joint suit with Microsoft, Princeton sued on behalf of an undergraduate plaintiff, claiming that Homeland Security had acted unlawfully in rescinding the DACA program.

And they won.

That’s the thing – universities are winning these battles. And whether it be a lucky streak or a larger pattern, it’s a risk worth taking to defend Dreamers from all over the U.S.

The University of California has the luxury of being one of the largest public universities in the nation, with about 4,000 undocumented students among its ranks.

It makes sense that these public universities often hold substantial undocumented populations – they are often the only feasible option for in-state students. That being said, undocumented and DACA students are often a hefty chunk of the student population we invest in through state taxes. Meanwhile, these students work to benefit themselves academically, and in doing so, they benefit the community around them with their skillsets.

Unfortunately, where they call home often creates long-term difficulties – but that doesn’t mean universities should perpetuate these roadblocks. Instead, they should provide a platform for students to thrive despite their circumstances.

If these universities don’t want to help students for economic or academic motives at the end of the day, they should at least do so as a reflection of their institutional moral compass.

There are about 700,000 DACA students in the nation. That means this affects everyone – regardless of the local economy or a student’s contribution to the public university system. These students deserve university support simply because they’re under attack, and these universities have the resources to help.

Dreamers should be busy making their education a reality, not fighting legal battles with lackluster resources.

In order to help these students, campuses nationwide need to finally wake up.

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