Supporting DACA students

24 April 2017

This past Thursday’s LTC session was a student panel presentation titled, “Being undocumented impacts daily living. Yes, even at Carleton.” The students asked faculty and staff to reflect on how they would handle particular scenarios that were based on situations that these students had encountered. One of the main takeaways was the importance of faculty and staff educating themselves on these topics.  Here I try to summarize the main ideas from the session as well as providing some additional resources for faculty and staff who want to learn more.

What is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is the result of an executive action by the Obama administration in 2012 that provides certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children, and meet particular criteria, to apply for “deferred action” for a period of two years, allowing them to stay in the United States and receive employment authorization and a social security number for employment purposes. However, DACA does not provide a path to permanent residency or US citizenship, and individuals must apply to renew their DACA status every two years. The cost of a DACA application is $495 plus legal fees.

What are some key points that faculty and staff should keep in mind as they aim to support DACA students?

  • Don’t ask undocumented students to self-identify, but do what you can to educate yourself and identify yourself as an ally/supporter. For faculty: In your syllabus, consider including a statement acknowledging that students may need to be absent for issues related to immigration processing and how you will handle that.
  • If a DACA student chooses to share their status with you, consult the student to learn how you can be most helpful to them in their particular situation. Do not disclose a student’s status to others.
  • Be mindful of language; referring to undocumented individuals as “illegals” is dehumanizing. If you notice students in your classes using those terms, use the moment as an opportunity to educate students about the impact of language.
  • DACA students face limitations with regards to their involvement in some programs. For example, they are not eligible for the TRIO/SSS program. DACA students may face additional challenges with regards to study abroad, work, and internship opportunities. Some recommendations that advisors might make for students who are US citizens are not necessarily appropriate for DACA students.
  • Delays in processing of work permits may disrupt a student’s ability to continue to work on campus. In such cases, the student financial aid office and the dean of students office can be resources. If you are a work supervisor, it can helpful to let the student know that you will hold the position for them while their work permit issues are sorted out.
  • When DACA students apply for renewal, they are assigned a date to come to their local Application Support Center (in their home state) for a biometrics appointment, often with only about a week’s notice. These appointments are mandatory and may not be rescheduled, regardless of how they might conflict with academic calendars or deadlines.

Because DACA is the result of executive action, it can be changed or terminated at any time. These recommendations are current at present, but it is important to do your research.

Additional resources: