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Indiana’s 10K DACA Kids Could Lose Immigration Status In 6 Months

U.S. Social Security card and resident card.

Photo: Leena Robinson (Shutterstock.com)

U.S. Social Security card and resident card.

9,840 Hoosiers receive benefits from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the most recent data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

As NPR reports, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is ending the program in the next six months, giving Congress a chance to codify the program’s legal protections into law.

The Department of Homeland Security says existing DACA participants whose eligibility expires between now and March 5 have until Oct. 5 to apply for renewal. The department will also “adjudicate on an individual case-by-case basis” requests to enroll in the program and for renewal that were received as of Tuesday. However, new applications will not be accepted going forward.

Trump’s decision leaves Congress facing increasing pressure to find a solution for a population that was estimated in 2012 to include as many as 1.8 million immigrants — of which about 800,000 have been granted deferred status under DACA.

The news is a blow to Sylvia Babcock, who runs the Latino service agency Su Casa in Bartholomew County. She says she works with many DACA students and families.

“They can legally have a driver’s license, so they’re getting up at all hours of the night, you know, to get family members to work …and DACA students are buying the family’s first homes here,” Babcock says. “But I don’t know of one DACA student who has ever said, I wish I didn’t have that responsibility.

Su Casa serves about 2,300 Latino families in Bartholomew County, but Babcock doesn’t know exactly how many are undocumented or using DACA. She says they’re waiting to hear exactly what will happen when DACA ends. In the meantime, they plan to write to Congress, asking lawmakers to legalize the program.

And she says her DACA kids “will continue being the examples that they need to be.”

“I hear resolve in their voices and in their messages,” Babcock says. “And I would encourage them and I would encourage our community to continue supporting that resolve.”

Universities Respond

Some of Indiana’s public higher education institutions spoke out against the Trump administration’s action and lamented the political nature of immigration discussions.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie says he is “deeply disappointed” by the decision and pledged for IU to remain “fully committed” to DACA students. As of last year, around 200 students in the program were enrolled at the university.

McRobbie urges “swift, fair and compassionate congressional action” to codify DACA policy into law.

“During this time, we will work vigorously with our state’s congressional delegation and others to enact a thoughtful policy that will meet the needs of IU’s DACA students and our state,” McRobbie said in a statement. “IU can and will take several steps to continue supporting all IU students, regardless of personal characteristics or documentation, that are within the bounds of the federal and state laws that bind us as a public institution.”

On the IU DACA resources website, the University pledges not to voluntarily disclose immigration and/or citizenship status to federal authorities except in response to a court-issued subpoena, to comply with a federal regulation or “to protect a person’s safety.”

“Ending the DACA program will undermine IU’s ability to educate our students to prepare them for a lifetime of informed and active global citizenship,” McRobbie said.

IU DACA response.

Photo: IU DACA response

IU DACA response.

Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann and Indiana State University President Dan Bradley both called for political leaders to quickly resolve the issue.

“It is very unfortunate that this has become a political issue,” Bradley said in a statement. “I feel personally for the students affected by this decision.”

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar said in a statement he is hopeful that Congress will work quickly in the next six months to establish permanent protections.

“I want to reassure all DACA students that we remain fully committed to ensuring a welcoming, safe, civil and inclusive community for them and for all of our students, faculty, and staff at IUPUI,” Paydar said. “We understand that the administration’s latest decision leaves a great deal of uncertainty, and we will make every effort to better understand the decision and how we can continue to help all of our students in our role as a public university bound by federal and state laws.”

Immigration Debate to Continue

The debate over immigration and access to higher education will likely be on the agenda at the Indiana Statehouse next year.

State lawmakers are now discussing changes to a 2011 law that prohibits undocumented students from paying in-state tuition at public colleges. At most state colleges, students not enrolled in DACA are required to pay the more expensive out-of-state cost.

The law was approved by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Daniels, now president of Purdue University, has joined other higher education leaders in signing a letter in support of DACA.

Columbus and Indianapolis are among the cities holding pro-DACA rallies Tuesday night. The Indianapolis event is at St. Gabriel Catholic Church at 5:30 p.m. In Columbus, supporters will gather at 6:30 p.m. outside City Hall.

This is a developing story. This post has been updated. 

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