Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Students and Faculty respond to DACA announcement

By Afnan Nehela

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(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

Last Tuesday, President Trump announced that his administration will be terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program allows young undocumented immigrants to live in the country without the fear of getting deported.

The administration is no longer accepting any new applications for the program. Current DACA recipients are allowed a two-year renewal of their permits at a cost of $500. After October 5, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept any renewal applications.

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, DACA’s rescission was met with anger and disappointment from many student and faculty members.

Yesterday, students of the Center for Education Policy Advocacy (CEPA) collaborated with the Western Massachusetts chapter of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) to organize a rally protesting the repeal of DACA.

Chioma Gathoga-Ogbuike, a senior double majoring in women, gender and sexuality studies and Afro-American studies, said she wants to caution everyone against apathy and complacency.

“Neutrality is violence. Apathy is what is expected of us young people, but we cannot give this malicious and traitorous administration the satisfaction of quietly accepting their fascist agenda,” she said.

Gathoga-Ogbuike is the co-president of the Black Student Union (BSU), a policy advocacy coordinator in Student Bridges and a senator in the Student Government Association (SGA). She believes students need to put pressure on the UMass administration to secure funds for the students affected by DACA in the event that their livelihood or means are taken away.

“It is imperative we come together now more than ever, because when one of us has our freedom stripped, none of us are free,” Gathoga-Ogbuike said.

Legal studies assistant professor and immigration law expert Rebecca Hamlin said that the new decision is pulling the rug out from under a lot of people and the administration doesn’t seem to have a better alternative plan.

“This seems like a pattern for this administration. They also wanted to repeal ObamaCare without replacing it with anything better,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin said she has had many undocumented students in past years, many of whom are now terrified. She, however, appreciated that Chancellor Subbaswamy emailed a statement following the administration’s announcement. She said that many of her colleagues at universities around the country did not. She added that the statement’s language was powerful and that the Angel Fund that was created to assist DACA recipients with legal fees was essential. She recognized that when these issues occur at a federal level, there is only so much that can be done.

However, Marissa Mackson, a junior community sustainable development major and activist on campus, said UMass could do more to help those affected.

“When the law is unjust and is harming students, UMass needs to live up to its slogan of ‘UMatter at UMass’ and actually act on that. Prove to us that it is more than just a PR thing and take that risk,” said Mackson.

She added that it’s important UMass declares itself a sanctuary campus despite the federal consequences.

Gathoda-Ogbuike and Mackson both urgently stressed that students at UMass need to mobilize, get engaged and ask the right questions that will allow them to be allies resisting injustice.

Afnan Nehela can be reached at [email protected]

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