Standing Up for DACA
Although the DACA program is planned to expire March 5, each continuing resolution and round of immigration negotiations adds to the climate of uncertainty. Duke University continues to stand for a permanent solution that provides DACA recipients a clear path forward as they plan their lives and continue to be valued members of our community.
Colleges and universities have seen these remarkable people up close in our classrooms and as our colleagues and friends. Despite the challenges they face, they have made incredible contributions to our country, its economy and security, with about 900 recipients serving in the military. In part because of their legal status, many DACA recipients were able to enroll in an institution of higher learning.
If we are unable to protect these DACA recipients, we will be shutting the door to a significant group of individuals who represent the best of what being in this country can mean for human achievement.
Terminating DACA would have adverse impacts not only on those recipients and their immediate communities, but the whole of America’s economy. Specific to North Carolina, ending DACA would lead to an estimated GDP loss of $1.2 billion and, by some estimates, up to a $10 billion total cost to the state.
Duke, in collaboration with our peer institutions, is urging Congress to pass legislation as soon as possible that will include protections currently provided under DACA and allow these individuals to continue contributing to our society and economy by working, serving in the military or attending college.
Children brought to the United States at a young age did not have a choice in the matter and are Americans in every way but immigration status. It remains in America’s best interest to enable them to use their knowledge, skills and energy to continue to make the strongest possible contribution to our country.
By highlighting these individuals, the DACA program gave them a chance to engage with the world. They spoke out, they worked hard, paid taxes, application fees, health insurance and now many of these young people are in college trying to improve themselves and the world around them.
Protecting DACA recipients is not simply an economic issue. It is a moral one. It is about protecting young people who embody what it means to be American: self-improvement despite adversity. America asked undocumented students to stand up and gain legal status. Now, it is time to stand with them.