The University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) have joined with several other institutions nationwide in challenging the proposed elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
UConn and all 17 CSCU colleges and universities signed on to an amicus brief filed this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, which is scheduled to hear the lawsuit headed by the University of California against the Trump administration.
The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary are violating the constitutional rights of the university and its students by its plan to end the DACA program, which has allowed almost 800,000 undocumented young people to live, work, and study legally in the U.S.
UConn and CSCU signed on to the amicus brief to support the lawsuit because they believe eliminating DACA will significantly harm their campus communities and students, and that the decision to rescind is arbitrary and unlawful.
One case cited in the brief is that of Anayancy Ramos, a junior at Eastern Connecticut State University with a double major in biology and biochemistry, who has been an exemplary student both at Eastern and earlier at a community college.
According to the amicus brief: “She notes that through DACA, she’s been able to achieve an education and a future she never thought possible, but that those dreams will die if DACA forces her to retreat once more into the shadows.”
“Eliminating DACA will have a devastating impact on some of our best students,” says Mark Ojakian, President of CSCU, which includes 17 institutions serving more than 85,000 students. “The fundamental responsibility of a public education institution is to foster learning, innovation, and strong communities to any student willing to put in the work to learn and achieve. We have and will continue to fight for DACA students in our CSCU community, in our state, and across the country.”
In addition to the litigation headed by the University of California, DACA is being challenged in separate litigation in U.S. District Court in New York brought by multiple attorneys general, including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.
UConn President Susan Herbst submitted an affidavit in support of the DACA program as part of that litigation, saying DACA participants have made significant contributions to the campus, and that rescinding DACA will cause significant academic and financial harm to the institution.
“The loss of DACA students, faculty, and staff will also cause a moral loss to our UConn community,” Herbst wrote in the affidavit. “The idea of unwillingly losing classmates, peers, and friends through action that is contrary to UConn’s mission and values represents a shock to our collective identity.
“UConn has already experienced student protests in support of the DACA program and our DACA population since the announcement that DACA is to be terminated. These sentiments are only expected to increase,” she added.
Jepsen said Connecticut is among the states that will “vigorously oppose the president’s actions.” The attorneys general in the case say stripping DACA protections from those participating in the program is unlawful, and that it violates federal acts requiring notice and the opportunity for public comment before such actions can be taken.
“We cannot stand idly by while this administration needlessly and cruelly threatens the futures of more than 10,000 Connecticut residents,” Jepsen said in September when he and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that Connecticut would be among the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.
“These dreamers are valued members of our social fabric and economy. They are our friends and neighbors, employers and employees, and students working to better themselves and their communities,” he said. “For many, America is the only home they have ever really known, and they are proud to work and contribute to its success.”