It's 'DACA Week' At California Community Colleges
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has declared this week “DACA Advocacy Week,” and San Diego campuses are responding with a full slate of events.
They include everything from movie screenings, to informational sessions with immigration attorneys, to workshops on managing stress.
City College Dean of Student Affairs Marciano Perez said there are several hundred students at the downtown campus facing new uncertainty now that President Donald Trump has ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected them from deportation.
“The questions we’re getting from these students are about trying to make decisions about whether they should stay in school,” Perez said. “Should they leave school and work for the next six months? And our message has been really clear that we want students to be here. We want them to really be invested in their education because we know that getting their education is going to be the best thing for them moving forward.”
Despite the policy change, DACA recipients could remain in the United States for years to come. The president reportedly said last week he will delay his March deadline for ending DACA until Congress agrees on a plan to replace it. Trump initially seemed to have struck a deal with Democrats on moving legislation forward but later laid out priorities for border security that could make the deal a non-starter.
Meanwhile, several states including California, businesses and the University of California have filed lawsuits that could tangle up that matter in court for some time.
“The San Diego Community College District is committed to providing every one of our students access to a quality education, and the SDCCD, its colleges and Continuing Education will continue to provide information, including workshops and other academic support, for DACA students and the larger community to keep them informed about their options,” SDCCD Vice Chancellor of Student Services Lynn Neault said in a press release.
City College student Raymond Velasquez, a U.S. citizen, said his classmates have not cowered amid the uncertainty. He said the diverse campus has become more active.
“They’re all coming together and creating clubs, creating events, having these workshops and just getting the word out that they’re not alone and they can have someone to rely on,” Velasquez said. He’s planning to take civility training through the National Conflict Resolution Center as part of the DACA week events.
Local immigrant rights advocates say there are about 40,000 people in San Diego County who are DACA recipients or are eligible for the program. Recipients applied in waves, meaning their protections would sunset at different times — some as early as March — if the program ends.
The last round of renewals for protected status ended Oct. 5, presumably giving those approved until 2019 to live and work in the U.S. About 80 percent, or 122,000, of those eligible for renewal nationwide got their applications in on time, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The majority, about 64,000, came in after the president announced the program would end. Renewal decisions are still pending for many.