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A Dream Denied

By Guest Writer Camilla Dohlman ‘17

· Guest Writer

On November 10th, the 740,000 undocumented immigrants who are temporarily protected from deportation and have gained the right to work, study, and obtain driver’s licenses in the United States through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program woke up to a startling new reality — one in which they were not even allowed to have a say.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s upset victory left many fearful for the future. Among the millions who have been living in the United States of America without citizenship or legal residency status, the Trump presidency could mean the unthinkable — returning to a country that they no longer recognize as home.

Trump’s vitriolic campaign included promises to deport at least 3 million undocumented immigrants and to reverse all of Obama’s 260 executive orders on his first day in the oval office. As a result, DACA and its beneficiaries are under immediate threat.

Because DACA “dreamers” are registered with the government and their information is stored in a federal database, they would be an easy target for a Trump administration eager to live up to campaign promises to deport millions. Thus, there is particular concern for the thousands of undocumented students at colleges and universities across the country, many of whom benefit from DACA.   We must act in order to protect those members of our community who are most vulnerable to the threat of its likely repeal.

In an e-mail to the student body following the election, Dean Beverly Wendland stated unequivocally that all students have the right to feel “accepted, safe and protected” on campus. Student activists at Johns Hopkins University, including myself, have called on the university to live up to this promise and take decisive action to protect members of our community that may be adversely affected by the deplorable intentions  of the Trump administration.

A petition for the university administration to designate Johns Hopkins University as a “sanctuary campus,” has been circulated widely among Hopkins students, alumni, faculty and staff and has received almost 1,000 signatures. While the idea of a sanctuary campus is loosely defined, it involves asserting the refusal to voluntarily cooperate with immigration and customs officials regarding the immigration status of individuals affiliated with an institution as well as barring ICE officials from entering campus without a warrant or explicit permission from the university. Similar petitions have started at dozens of other colleges and universities, including Harvard, Columbia, and Wesleyan. Cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago operate under a similar model.

Administrators at some universities, such as Columbia and Wesleyan, have responded positively and proclaimed their universities as sanctuary campuses. President Daniels and the Johns Hopkins administration have yet to respond to the call for a sanctuary campus.

While President Daniels, along with more than 250 other university presidents, signed a letter in support of upholding DACA, this statement of support is worth little in the absence of concrete action. The administration is opting to jeopardize the education or livelihood of some members of the Hopkins community due to fears of losing federal funding. While a legitimate fear, it seems unlikely given the institution’s close ties with the military industrial complex and defense research.  These ties would likely deter even the pigheaded Republican leadership from cutting off research funding that contributes so significantly to the United States military.

Currently, It is unclear whether there are undocumented undergraduates at JHU, since the university has no official policy on admitting or giving financial aid to DACA students and other undocumented students (with the exception of the medical school, which does accept DACA students).  In addition to proclaiming Hopkins a sanctuary school, President Daniels would do well to underscore the commitment of our university to ensuring a diverse and inclusive student body by admitting, and providing financial aid to, exemplary undocumented students. These students would undoubtedly enrich and contribute to our student body.

In light of the election results and President-elect Trump’s xenophobic policy proposals, the administration has a responsibility to join ranks with many of our peer institutions, such as the University of Chicago, Harvard, Duke, Columbia, Yale and others, and commit itself to enrolling and providing financial aid for undocumented students, regardless of DACA status. Furthermore, if Hopkins is truly committed to diversity and inclusivity, the administration has a responsibility to proclaim Hopkins campus as a sanctuary for undocumented students where they too can be “accepted, safe, and protected.”

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