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September 6, 2017

President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the community on September 6, 2017

Dear Students and Members of the Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday we learned the distressing news that the Trump administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which for the last five years has allowed young people who came to the United States as children—the “dreamers”—to stay in the country and obtain temporary work permits. This action alters dramatically the lives of 800,000 DACA recipients, including some of our own students. A provision to allow Congress six months to create a legislative solution offers some hope, but there is no guarantee that such a solution will be found. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to continue to support our DACA and undocumented students.

Jennifer Marks Gold and Reshma Ajayan from the Office of International Student Services have taken a number of steps to provide DACA and undocumented students support and guidance. Last Friday, upon hearing that a decision about DACA was imminent, they opened a new student orientation session with an immigration attorney to respond to students’ questions. Following yesterday’s announcement, they hosted a support session, and they have been conducting individual advising sessions with all affected students. They are also in the process of scheduling one-on-one appointments with an immigration attorney for all affected students who request one.

In addition, the Office of International Student Services and the Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development have been working with the Financial Aid Office to review the potential impact of this decision on DACA students and develop plans to support these students financially. We have also reminded all DACA and undocumented students about the range of resources available to them, including the Student Emergency Fund (aka the Dean's Discretionary Fund), CAPS, and their class deans.

As you know, the Sanctuary Campus Working Group has issued its recommendations [pdf], some of which have already been implemented, with others underway. This work will continue with even greater focus and commitment given these students’ increased vulnerability.

I will also continue to partner with other higher education leaders as we petition Congress and the administration to quickly pass long-term legislation to ensure that DACA and undocumented students retain their ability to live, study, and work in this country.

DACA and undocumented students have demonstrated the same mix of talent, enthusiasm and curiosity as any other Swarthmore student. Like all our students, they are valued members of our community, and we stand by them.

Valerie Smith