The wrong thing to do
I had a fantasy last weekend as the media kept reporting that the president would announce an end to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. I fantasized (in retrospect) that his exposure to the people of Houston, in their time of distress and peril, with thousands there who likely are in the program or could be in it, would make him consider the human toll of ending DACA. He would take a time-out and find a face-saving way of backing away from his misguided campaign promises.
As we know now, my fantasy was just that. Yesterday, the president announced his intention to end the program, with a time-delay for implementation. He called on Congress to pass legislation that could provide a path for those in DACA. Current estimates are that more than 800,000 young people may be affected. We do not know who in the Gillings School or how many are in the DACA program.
The email exchanges and conversations I have had with many people since the announcement, including people in leadership positions in our School, reflect what I feel also — shock, disgust, embarrassment and profound sadness about where we are at this point in the history of our country. We want the America that is welcoming, inclusive, fair and family friendly. This is the country many of our parents and grandparents and their grandparents sought to reach.
To our students, staff and faculty who are affected personally by the plan to end DACA and all who are upset about the implications of this plan, my heart goes out to you. I and others here are with you. While I do not speak for the entire Gillings School in these posts, on this topic, I know that I speak for many.
If you are motivated to do so, now is the time to contact your senators and representatives in U.S. Congress to communicate your perspective.
What we know right now
For those who have not seen it, UNC-Chapel Hill leadership this morning issued a thoughtful and informative message on DACA to the University community.
In addition, coverage of DACA by The Chronicle of Higher Education includes implications of the president’s action and a special collection of articles with background and context on the history of the deferred-action program and its vulnerable participants.
Today, we have little specific information and advice, but we are committed to help those in the DACA program navigate as best we can. Naya Villarreal, MPH, program coordinator in the School’s Research, Innovation and Global Solutions unit, has compiled information about resources within the Gillings School community and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Gillings School resources
Charletta Sims Evans, associate dean for student affairs, is available to listen and provide guidance and referrals for any student who needs help (phone 919-966-2499 or email email@example.com).
Naya Villarreal, program coordinator, Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, also is available (phone 919-843-5491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
UNC-Chapel Hill resources
Additional resources and support are available to all UNC-Chapel Hill students. Here are a few:
Students who have questions about immigration regulations and related options may contact International Student and Scholar Services.
For legal assistance, including immigration questions, students can contact Carolina Student Legal Services for referrals to other attorneys with expertise in immigration matters.
This is what we know now. More information should be coming, and we will share it as we receive it. We will continue to communicate with people in University leadership and figure out how best to communicate with you, and we’ll talk with you to understand your needs. This is your School, and we will work with you to get through this. I am just sorry that it is necessary. At the Gillings School, we need and want the dreamers with us.
The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School of Global Public Health.