Graham calls for a clean Dream Act

Congress’s failure to act on DACA sparks Xavier’s commitment to take action

Photo courtesy of Isabela McClintock | Xavier students and members of advocacy group Youth Educating Society made signs in November before demonstrating in front of Senator Rob Portman’s office. The event was a part of Xavier’s UndocuWeek.

Father Michael Graham, president, released a campus-wide letter on Monday affirming Xavier’s commitment to protect current “Dreamers” in the student body. The letter also highlighted what has already been done at the university level to advocate for legislative action.

The letter opens by recapping Congress’s failure to pass legislation to protect “Dreamers” on March 5, when the program was set to expire. However, as the letter notes, on Feb. 26, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must stop revoking undocumented youth deportation protections without due process. Under the court order, the federal government must reinstate undocumented immigrants’ deportation protections and cannot revoke them without at least notifying them first, offering an explanation and giving time for a response. The letter also offers praise for the student leaders who are taking action on the issue, including Dreamers José Cabrera and Heyra Avila and the Student Government Association (SGA) as a whole.

“This is not a partisan issue. It is a moral issue,” Graham said in the letter. “The message to Congress is: pass a ‘clean Dream Act.’ A clean, bipartisan Dream Act would come with responsibilities for immigrants…to meet certain requirements while protecting them from deportation and offer them a path to citizenship.”

The letter states that “immigration status is not and will not be a factor when making admission decisions.” It also offers various resources for students and encourages those to reach out for help if they have any questions.

Cabrera believes “the University is doing as much as they can with their resources and what the University is allowed to do. There is always more work that can be done.”

President Donald Trump revoked DACA in September 2017, saying it was an “amnesty-first approach,” and urged Congress to pass a replacement before March 5 when the administration would begin to phase out the various protections offered. Trump said in a statement that he was driven by concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions believed that the program “had denied hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Despite the move drawing bipartisan criticism at the time, no legislation has been passed to extend protections or offer a path to citizenship for Dreamers. The federal government shut down on Jan. 20, when Democrats refused to help Senate Republicans pass an appropriations bill to fund the government. Democrats wanted to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act before agreeing to fund the government. However, Republicans wanted funding for Trump’s border wall to be attached to any DREAM legislation.

The DREAM Act was first introduced in August 2001 by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to provide a process for “alien” minors in the U.S. to receive conditional residence and eventually permanent residency. It has yet to pass in Congress despite being re-introduced several times in different variations since 2001.

The future of DACA and its recipients remains uncertain. While the most recent court decision offers temporary protection, there is little chance of Congressional action anytime soon. While Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has co-sponsored a bill that has conservative backing, the legislation does not have enough support from Democrats to pass the chamber. This inaction has left the future of Dreamers up for debate since the protections they currently have will most likely end at some point in the near future.

However, Cabrera holds out hope for bipartisan legislation. “I think I will be. I have to,” he said.

Graham encourages students to participate in advocating for Dreamers by phoning, mailing or emailing their legislators. The letter also includes a link to Cabrera’s Youth Educating Society, an advocacy group run out of the Cincinnati Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center. Cabrera recommends those who want to help to be as informed as possible.

“Do as much research as you possibly can. Make sure that the information is valid,” he advised.

By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~