Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Cornell President Martha Pollack, pictured here in May, reaffirmed Cornell's commitment to DACA students on Tuesday after President Donald Trump ended the program.

September 5, 2017

Pollack Reaffirms Cornell Commitments to DACA Students After Trump Ends Program

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Cornell President Martha Pollack spoke out against President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Tuesday. She wrote in a statement sent out to the Cornell community Tuesday that the action is “extremely troubling” and reaffirmed Cornell’s commitments to DACA students.

Pollack had earlier written a letter to Trump that said that Cornell is committed to diversity and inclusion, and DACA students are an essential part to the campus community.

“They were brought to this country before they had a choice in the matter, have grown up here, and are succeeding here despite significant challenges and obstacles,” she wrote. “I believe they deserve a chance to fulfill their dreams, and this action has the potential to extinguish those dreams.”

While full implications of Trump’s announcement are not yet known, it appears that in six months DACA students will lose protections from deportation and permits to work in the United States.

DACA students would also not be able to re-enter the country, and the government will no longer accept new applications from undocumented immigrants to protect them from deportation.

“These are very real impacts,” Pollack wrote. “To each of our students who must now fear for their future, please know that Cornell stands with you.”

Pollack included a comprehensive list of commitments to Cornell’s DACA students, which include the University’s protection of student information and records from any unauthorized disclosure in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Additionally, undergraduate DACA students will continue to be considered in the “domestic” financial aid pool for the remainder of their time at Cornell, and DACA graduate students will continue to receive University funding.

“While Cornell representatives, including the Cornell University Police Department, will comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and warrants, it is neither the university’s practice nor expectation to function as an agent of the federal government regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws,” Pollack wrote, echoing earlier commitments the University has made.

The University will also develop programs to support undocumented students who would have qualified for DACA, and on-campus housing options will be available for any students concerned about traveling abroad.

Pollack wrote that the University will “continue to actively and aggressively engage federal policymakers in an effort to either reverse today’s order or secure a legislative remedy.” She emphasized University support of legislation such as the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, which would provide a three-year protection period to DACA students to stop them from being deported.

Arts & Sciences Dean Gretchen Ritter ’83 endorsed Pollack’s message, writing to students and faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences that the school will stand with students and connect them with relevant support service.

“I encourage all of us to look out for one another,” Ritter wrote. “In our uncommonly diverse college, I guarantee that you know someone who is personally affected by this decision.”

“Our commitment to Cornell University’s founding principles is unwavering,” Pollack wrote. “We support all our students in their quest to pursue their education and achieve their dreams.”