In wake of the government shutdown, Rutgers expands resources for undocumented students
The federal government shut down this weekend over a disagreement for the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Though the government reopened its doors on Monday, there has not been a permanent solution for the approximately 500 students enrolled at Rutgers and more than 690,000 DACA recipients nationwide. Despite the legislative confusion, Rutgers has hired a new immigration case manager to provide more resources to the University’s undocumented community.
To provide additional advocacy and support for undocumented students, Chancellor Debasish Dutta sent an email that announced the hire of a new case manager, Yuriana Garcia Tellez.
Garcia Tellez arrived at Rutgers with experience serving the University of Washington's undocumented community as a coordinator for their Leadership Without Borders (LWB) program.
The LWB program’s mission is to build a safe and empowering space for undocumented students and to give resources to scholarships, textbook lending, leadership development opportunities and referrals to other campus and community resources, according to their website.
At Rutgers, Garcia Tellez said she will oversee Rutgers’ three campuses and will identify the priorities of each campus in terms of providing resources to its undocumented student community.
Some examples include seeing if certain campuses need more community development programs, a better system to connect students to certain resources or to give "UndocuAlly" training to faculty, she said.
A recent federal court decision directed President Donald J. Trump's administration to resume accepting DACA renewal applications.
While renewal applications will continue to be accepted until a court decision is decided, Ross Baker, a distinguished professor in the Department of Political Science, said the court case revolves around a “technicality” of not whether the president has the constitutional power to end DACA, but rather the way in which he can end the program will be decided.
Until a final court decision is reached, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed accepting applications requests from individuals who were granted deferred action protections under DACA before.
A statement from USCIS on Jan. 13 said, “…the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”
Rutgers has been vocal in its support for undocumented students and continues to provide resources to those affected.
A Jan. 15 advisory from Rutgers regarding DACA renewal applications instructs any Rutgers student who has questions about the recent court decision to contact Jason Hernandez, an immigrant rights attorney at the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP).
Last semester, RICAP was created to provide free and confidential legal consultations to the Rutgers student community affected by the rescindment of DACA.
In Congress, the recent legislative fight over DACA has been a battle of confusion.
A bipartisan immigration “Dream Act” bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was introduced to Trump last Thursday morning, only to be rejected later that afternoon, Baker said.
“The president makes it more confusing because nobody knows where he stands on DACA,” Baker said.
The “Dream Act” legislation introduced by Graham-Durbin would have found a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, provided funding for a border wall and security and made changes to the legal immigration system.
But the president rejected the proposal because he said it did not go far enough to fund the southern U.S.-Mexico border wall and did not address the issue of “chain migration,” a way for immigrants to be granted visas from a family member rather than through a “merit-based” system.
Because of the lack of progress for immigration reform, an effort was made to attach a solution on DACA to “must-pass legislation” — an appropriations bill to fund the government, Baker said.
When a consensus could not be reached between Congressional leaders, the government was shut down.
An implication for the battle for a clean DREAM act is the number of immigration hardliners there are in the House of Representatives, said Gerald Pomper, an emeritus professor in the Department of Political Science. The lack of strong Republican support from Congress and from the White House will make it harder to have enough votes.
“I’m skeptical there’s going to be an agreement,” Pomper said.
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