March 20, 2017

Cornell signs letter to President Trump in support of 'Dreamers'

Cornell University has joined more than 560 institutions of higher education in signing a letter to President Donald Trump March 16 asking that he support noncitizen students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program status.

The letter asks Trump to allow the students to continue their work without fear of deportation and commends him for the positive statements he has made about the “Dreamers,” calling them “incredible kids.”

Dreamers refers to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was first introduced in 2001 but never passed. In 2012, President Barack Obama established the DACA program, which allows some undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

The letter, which was prepared by the American Council on Education, reads, in part:

“At present, more than 750,000 individuals are registered under the [DACA] program, many of whom are enrolled in college. These young people consider themselves Americans, just like their classmates and friends, and in most ways they are. To qualify, applicants must pass a rigorous, multi-faceted test. They must have arrived in the U.S. before reaching age 16, resided here continuously since 2012, be enrolled in or completed high school, not been convicted of a crime, and not present a threat to national security or public safety.

“These bright and talented young people are working, are studying at colleges and universities, or have enlisted in the armed services. Because they now have work permits, they are making immediate contributions to our society and our economy. They are paying taxes, receiving driver’s licenses, and buying cars and first homes, all of which generates revenue for federal, state, and local governments. They are ineligible for federal means-tested welfare benefits, Pell Grants, and federal student loans, as well as health care tax subsidies.

“According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting the approximately 750,000 people registered in the program would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

“Unfortunately, many of these young people now live in fear that the program will be rolled back or revoked. In order to lift this cloud of fear, we ask that you commit to allowing these productive and high-achieving individuals to continue to work and study while your administration and Congress arrive at a permanent solution. The higher education community is eager to work with you to find a path forward.”