President Alison Byerly emailed the following message to the campus community today.
To the College Community:
Today’s announcement from the White House regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has created fear and uncertainty for many in our community. The DACA program, instituted in 2012, allows undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as children to be protected from deportation for a renewable two-year period so that they can pursue education or employment.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that DACA will end in six months. Any continuation of a similar program will require action from Congress.
Voices on all sides of the political spectrum have spoken out in favor of continuation of the DACA program, including hundreds of college and university presidents; 350 CEOs of major corporations representing technology, industry, and finance sectors; and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch.
As an institution committed to providing educational opportunity to talented young people, Lafayette has welcomed a number of DACA students and publicly expressed our strong support for the DACA program. Last year, I joined other college and university presidents in writing to President Trump to urge him to retain the program. More recently, I and several other Lehigh Valley presidents met with U.S. Senator Bob Casey to affirm our support for possible legislative remedies to the situation, such as the bipartisan BRIDGE Act (H.R. 496).
To those of our students who are affected by the planned elimination of the DACA program, I say: Lafayette will do all we can to support you. You are valued members of our community.
If you are in need of legal advice, the College has arranged for pro bono legal services to be available to DACA recipients and undocumented students. Please contact Director of Financial Aid Ashley Bianchi, who will make the appropriate arrangements. You can also be in touch with the Counseling Center, the Chaplain’s Office, or Chris Hunt, Dean of Equity and Inclusion. All of these offices stand ready to support you, as do faculty and staff colleagues across the College.
We will continue to consider information that we have about a student’s residency status to be confidential, and we will do everything we can within the limits of the law to support our undocumented students and help them to fulfill their educational aspirations.
With the images of thousands of Texas families displaced by Hurricane Harvey fresh in our minds, we can all empathize with the deep seated desire for home and stability felt by the young people enrolled in the DACA program. For some students now facing uncertainty about their place in this country, Lafayette is that home. I know that I can count on the Lafayette community to be especially welcoming at this difficult time.
President Alison Byerly