Martha Pollack addresses the SA in April 2017. Pollack issued a letter to President Trump on Friday urging him not to end the DACA program.

Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

Martha Pollack addresses the SA in April 2017. Pollack issued a letter to President Trump on Friday urging him not to end the DACA program.

September 2, 2017

Pollack Tells Trump to ‘Preserve and Defend’ DACA Program

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In the throes of an increasingly xenophobic national climate, President Martha Pollack once again furthered her support for international students by issuing a letter to President Trump on Friday urging him not to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“On behalf of Cornell University, I write to share my deepest concern with news reports indicating that you intend to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” Pollack wrote, citing Trump’s intention to announce his final DACA decision on Tuesday.

Her letter comes a day after she reversed a decision that would have eliminated the Foreign Student Employment Program. Many international students who are employed under this program expressed concern that the program was going to be eliminated.

DACA — a five-year, Obama-era initiative that began in 2012 — allows immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16 or who were under the age of 31 at the program’s conception to defer their deportation and apply for working permits, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Trump is under pressure to rescind the program from 11 Republican state officials, who claimed in a letter in June that the memorandum that instated DACA in 2012 is “unlawful,” protecting “otherwise unlawfully present aliens.”

The Republican politicians set a hard date of September 5, 2017 for Trump’s decision on whether or not to rescind or renew the program. In the letter they said that if the president renews the program, they will follow up with a lawsuit that is currently in progress in southern Texas.

Politco reported on Sunday that Trump has likely already made up his mind to cut the program, according to White House officials. Though nothing is certain until his official announcement, there has been discussion of employing a 6 month buffer in which Congress can configure something to replace it. This compromise comes at the request of some Republican lawmakers — including House speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has reportedly spoken out against the elimination of DACA.

It remains unclear whether or not Trump, who has waited until the last minute to make the call, officially plans on cutting the program. But citizens who rely on DACA – sometimes referred to as “Dreamers” – are holding their breath, as The New York Times reports that they will likely know of DACA’s fate on Tuesday.

In her defense of DACA, Pollack cited Cornell’s post-Civil War origins and its motto of “any person, any study,” adding that students who rely on DACA are an “integral part of our university community.”

“They were brought to our country before they had a choice in the matter, have grown up in our culture, and are succeeding here, despite challenges and obstacles that you and I can only imagine,” the letter read.

The Cornell DREAM Team, a Cornell organization for undocumented students whose mission is to “empower undocumented students through advising and providing a support network,” commended Pollack for her gesture of support.

“We applaud President Pollack for showing her strong commitment to undocumented students on campus,” they said in a Facebook post on Friday. “Dreamers need support from administrators in stressful times like these. We look forward to working alongside president Pollack on making Cornell a more accessible and supportive university for all its students regardless of status.”

Tarannum Sahar ’19, president of Cornell Welcomes Refugees, also expressed contentment with President Pollack’s letter to Trump.

“I’m glad to see that President Pollack has expressed her concern through this letter sent to Trump and I hope that the University will continue to stand by all the students who will be affected by the termination of the DACA program,” she told The Sun.

Pollack stands in company with her contemporaries; Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Duke presidents all issued similar letters earlier in the week, according to The Atlantic.

The battle for the preservation of DACA is also nothing new to Cornell. Last November, President Rawlings joined over 600 university and college presidents in signing a statement to support DACA in the same month that he affirmed Cornell’s support for DACA students after 2,000 students, faculty and alumni petitioned for Cornell to become a “sanctuary campus.”

But Cornell has been aware of the possible end of DACA for months. The Sun reported in April that Cornell administrators issued a statement that DACA graduate students would “continue to receive funding for the complete length of time offered in their admissions letters,” and that fellowships would be provided for these students if DACA was indeed abolished. The statement also added that Cornell would attempt to use “DACA-like” criteria for admissions and financial aid policies for undergraduate students.

As Cornell DACA students await Trump’s announcement this week, Pollack, following in her predecessor’s footsteps, maintained that students who rely on DACA are “incredible kids” whom she has “watched blossom” under the program.

“It would be more than a shame if you act to extinguish so many bright and productive futures just as they are getting started,” she wrote to Trump. “Instead, I encourage you to work with Congress to pass legislation to allow DACA students to remain in our country, at home, where they belong.”

  • Jeff Chang

    “It would be more than a shame if you act to extinguish so many bright and productive futures just as they are getting started,” she wrote to Trump. “Instead, I encourage you to work with Congress to pass legislation to allow DACA students to remain in our country, at home, where they belong.”

    So the President of Cornell supports open borders immigration for persons falling into the DACA framework. DACA was never meant to be permanent, it just so happens their time is now up.

  • kenneth cooper

    DACA is unconstitutional and economically is a DRAIN on jobs for
    American Citizens. There is an estimated 800 THOUSAND recipients in the
    US (more signing up every day.) That is 800 THOUSAND jobs American
    Citizens DON’T have. The Democrats would have you believe that all 800
    thousand are not taking jobs Americans want (we’ve heard that speech for
    years). Wrong (this is another falsehood told to the American
    people..They’re not all picking strawberries they take good Jobs.Good
    enough jobs to buy homes, put their kids through college. Now Democrats
    and illegal alien activists admit DACA recipients have good jobs,are
    buying homes, paying taxes, etc.

    The GOAL (Democrats just haven’t figured this out yet) is for the
    AMERICAN CITIZENS to be employed, trained, sending their kid to college,
    buying homes and paying taxes. When I see the motivation by Democrats
    for illegal aliens using DACA I could only wish they had that same
    motivation for the citizens. It’s not the responsibility of the citizens
    of this country to support, pay for training, educate citizens from
    other country’s. There is also the public safety concerns with illegal
    aliens including DACA recipients. Donald trump has said he is the “Jobs
    President.” Well with the stroke of a pen he can simultaneously END
    Daca and open up 800,000 job opening for American Citizens.

    • Lucas

      Nice copy and paste job. Democrats do want American citizens to be employed, trained, sending their kids to college. You have not been paying attention to their proposals if you think otherwise. Law enforcement consistently report that the public safety issues are far greater with citizens.

      Trump told ICE to prioritize violent criminals presumably because they are threats to public safety. Instead ICE is using its time and resources to go after the easy, non-threats like grandmothers coming in for their annual ICE check-in, and detaining people with no probable cause except they look Hispanic. 90% of Arpaio’s aggressive detentions turned out to be legal, and often citizens. Math says that would be the case since only about 6% of Arizona’s population are illegal immigrants. Meanwhile actual public safety threats were neglected.

      PS Some of those 800,000 DACA kids are working. Most are still in school. America is considered to be at full employment.

      I am so glad you want to see opportunities for Americans improved. So what are your suggestions for improving the opportunities of ALL Americans?

      • Ezra Tank

        So Lucas should any President have the power to make a law like President Obama did with DACA? You need to study civics. The executive branch was NEVER intended to do what President Obama did with DACA. He only did it that way because he knew Congress would never approve it.

        President Trump is being painted a monster by the liberal hordes simply because he ended President Obama’s EO and kicked it back to Congress where it should have been decided the first time.

        • Lucas

          First, Obama’s EO is a red herring relative to the topic of this sub-thread–whether DACA recipients are stealing jobs and whether DACA recipients are entitled to experience success in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Cooper says their successes are to be held against them.

          But to you question of executive orders. Obama used EOs because the GOP controlled congress was determinedly obstructionist that they blocked everything regardless of the merits. Even now they are busy trying to rescind everything that can possibly be associated with Obama regardless of the merits. They just rescinded Obama’s flood control rules just before Houston, and now they are being forced to reinstate them. The GOP cannot govern. Congress has been debating some version of the DREAM Act for 16 years.

          Representative Chris Cannon, Republican from Utah introduced a version of the DREAM ACT. This version of the bill lowered age eligibility to 21 years of age and garnered 62 cosponsors. On August 1, 2001 (during the Bush administration) a mirror bill to the “Student Adjustment Act of 2001” was introduced in the Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch, also a Republican from Utah. This legislation, S. 1291, was the first bill given the short title of “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act” or DREAM Act.” After several years of back and forth, the bill failed cloture.

          The act was re-introduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday, March 26, 2009, during the 111th Congress. Congress debated it a couple years, but by then Obama was president. so Obama’s frustration with the GOP dilly-dallying with immigration reform that they introduced is well justified. As far as DACA goes, there was no executive order. It was a DHS memo signed by Jeh Johnson. The memo was rescinded by the acting DHS secretary today.

    • Jennifer

      There is no basis for the claim that DACA recipients are taking away jobs from other Americans.

      It can even be shown that “Dreamers” are contributing
      positively to the economy:

  • Karim Smither

    The title of this article is misleading. Obviously, Pollack did not speak to Trump or “tell” him anything. A more appropriate and accurate title would be “Pollack Pens Open Letter to Trump Urging Him To ‘Preserve and Defend’ DACA Program”.

  • Ezra Tank

    LOL nice headline … She TELLS President Trump. What gives her the power to TELL our President anything? Perhaps she could ASK him.

    The author of this “piece” Rachel Whalen really needs to study civics. You see Rachel President Obama went outside the bounds of his position and used Executive Order to make DACA a law. He went around Congress which is supposed to make laws, because he knew Congress would never agree to this law. We do not have a King which is why there are 3 branches of our Government. What was created by the pen is now ended by the pen. This is why outside of liberal strongholds President Trump won the voting overwhelmingly (and before you bemoan Hillary won the popular vote, again please study your civics and our Constitution).

    Also DACA first letter stands for “Deferred”. I suggest you look the meaning of that up. DACA was never meant to be permanent.

    President Trump is doing the correct thing by sending it back to Congress. This has nothing to do with Xenophobia or any other liberal catch phrase you want to throw at it. I suggest you use the rest of your time at Cornell learning how to think for yourself and not continue to use the brainwashing your subjected to daily.

    Of course non of your liberal professors will bother to teach you any of the facts above, only pointing to how “heartless” President Trump is.

    One day Rachel you will have children of your own. You will own a home, pay high taxes, and wonder how you’re going to be able to save for your kids college and your retirement. At that point you’ll look back at yourself and think, “wow my views as a young adult were so skewed out here in the real world”.

    Every spot taken by a DACA student is a spot my child or another LEGAL American child could be taking.

    Shame on your Cornell for supporting this executive order!