Belmont students and faculty gathered Wednesday morning to learn about what the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program means for the future of Dreamers on campus and in the Nashville community.
DACA, a program instated during the Obama administration, shielded children of undocumented immigrants from deportation while they were actively working or enrolled in school. But after President Donald Trump announced the rescission of DACA in September, 800,000 recipients could face deportation.
Guest speaker Leah Hashinger, community relations manager for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said that 8,300 Dreamers in Tennessee currently depend upon DACA for a driver’s license, access to education and employment.
Hashinger emphasized the importance of college students understanding DACA and the DREAM Act, in order to aid the movement toward a clean DREAM Act — one without compromises or penalties for the undocumented parents of Dreamers.
Hashinger also encouraged more direct student involvement in the fight for Dreamers’ rights, and pointed to the powerful effect people becoming involved and sharing their stories can have on local legislators.
“Upon meeting with DACA recipients and hearing their stories, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery withdrew his support of a letter calling for the termination of the DACA program,” said Hashinger.
To get more involved with the fight for a clean DREAM Act, Hashinger and the TIRRC recommend students spread the word to friends and family and contact their local senators to vocalize their support for a clean DREAM Act.
Belmont professor Jose Gonzalez also spoke passionately on the need for student activism and support for a clean DREAM act in his closing remarks.
“This issue is real on our campus,” said Gonzalez, “and it is not a political issue. It’s a human crisis. And it’s inspiring to see students taking on causes and acting on them.”
This article written by Carolyn Connolly.