Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Friends,
I know that I am not alone in saying that I was deeply dismayed by the announcement made yesterday morning that the Trump Administration plans to rescind the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that has benefited more than 800,000 of our nation’s youth. You may remember that last November I joined with hundreds of university and college presidents across the nation in urging President Trump to keep the DACA program in place. Since then, countless stories of the accomplishments and contributions of these talented, committed and courageous young people have emerged.
On Tuesday, Pacific University celebrated with Washington County the proclamation of Hispanic Heritage in Hillsboro. We were proud to be present and heard community leaders urge us to unite in support of the DACA community. Washington County alone has approximately 1,000 of the 11,281 “Dreamers” in Oregon. Many of them attend our university and live in our communities. President Trump’s decision harms the entire region served by Pacific University. We are aware of the consequences this declaration has on our students and their families, along with the friends and neighbors of many of our employees.
Since the DACA program began in 2012, we have witnessed its critical benefits for our students along with the highly positive impact on our learning community. At Pacific University and other higher education institutions, DACA beneficiaries have been exemplary student scholars and leaders working across our nation. With DACA, many students and alumni have been able to pursue professional careers in business, education, health professions, nonprofit organizations, and high-tech firms; they have gone to medical school, law school and entered many other graduate programs.
Congress has six months to fill the gap that rescinding DACA creates. Our local nonprofit organizations will be organizing to provide support services for DACA and their families to cope with this stressful situation. We will make information available about services as we learn of them. Our current understanding is that the Department of Homeland Security will process applications that had been received before Tuesday and will allow renewals in the next month of any of the two-year permits set to expire before March 5, 2018, in order to give time for Congress to act.
In the meantime, I join with other higher education leaders, interfaith organizations, immigration groups, and countless other communities in calling on the United States Congress to provide relief to DACA recipients. Right now, bi-partisan legislation introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – The Bridge Act – would give DACA recipients the protections and support they deserve. Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality and university chaplain, is tracking the legislation. You can contact him at email@example.com or 971-322-7920 for additional information. We can all help by contacting the members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation to offer support for a bi-partisan resolution to this reversal of the promise made to these young people.
DACA recipients at Pacific University: Please know that you are deeply valued by our university community. There are legitimate debates about immigration reform underway in the United States but the vast majority of Americans feel I as do: that we must make every effort to protect your lives and honor your accomplishments.
All students should rest assured that we will continue to do all that we can to protect the privacy of your records and to support your ability to remain actively enrolled and to succeed in your studies. Barring a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order, the university will not share students' records against your wishes with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or any other government agency or individual. This Pacific University policy aligns with federal law (the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA). Faculty and staff, please be aware that federal law prohibits you from sharing information about a student with any third party without that student's permission, including parents, reporters, law enforcement officers, or government agents. If anyone approaches you on or off campus asking about the status or whereabouts of a student, please immediately direct them to the Registrar's Office on the first floor of Marsh Hall. Our Campus Public Safety (CPS) will not inquire about anyone's legal status, and they will not take part in actions with ICE. For those of you who are new to our community, please know that last November our county sheriff joined many others in saying that local law enforcement will not use their resources to enforce federal immigration law.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to once again introduce Narce Rodriguez. Narce is our new executive director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She and Dr. Currie, along with our Counseling Center and other centers at Pacific, can be a support for you. Ms. Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-352-1457.
Lesley M. Hallick, Ph.D.