Tufts announced that it has joined 164 other public and private universities and colleges in signing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the roughly 700,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as children and who hold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status on Oct. 8.
“Tufts stands firmly with our DACA and undocumented students, their families, and their communities, and we are committed to honoring our promises to our DACA and undocumented students,” University President Anthony Monaco said in a TuftsNow article.
Tufts signed the “friend of the court” brief to oppose President Donald Trump’s rescission of the DACA program, which he announced on Sept. 5, 2017.
Since then, the Trump administration has been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle over its authority to end the program. The University of California, which filed the first lawsuit among universities against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2017, contends that doing so violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment.
The amicus brief was coordinated by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, according to a press release by the organization. The Presidents’ Alliance is a coalition of university presidents who seek to increase understanding of how immigration policies affect their students.
The amicus brief highlighted the benefits that undocumented students brought to campuses.
“DACA has facilitated the pursuit of higher education by undocumented youth in unprecedented numbers, ensuring that once enrolled, these students are positioned to succeed,” the brief reads. “As a result of DACA, thousands of talented and hard-working young people have made significant and wide-ranging contributions to amici’s campuses.”
The brief also quotes a letter from Amherst College’s president Biddy Martin, who stressed the importance of keeping DACA students on campus.
“Our classrooms at Amherst are enriched by the academic talent, hard work, and perspectives of DACA students who go on to become doctors, teachers, engineers, and artists,” Martin said in the letter.
Shortly after Trump’s 2016 election, Monaco released a similar statement expressing the university’s support for undocumented students.
“Tufts is committed to continuing our support of DACA and undocumented students because we have a moral responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students regardless of their citizenship status or personal identities,” he said.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on DACA’s rescission on Nov. 12.
Patrick Collins, executive director of public relations at Tufts, pointed to the university’s participation in the amicus brief as a sign of its unwavering support for its DACA students.
“As President Monaco has said, we are committed to honoring our promises to our DACA and undocumented students, who are an important part of our university community and deserve our support,” Collins told the Daily in an email.
DACA was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. The program grants any child of undocumented immigrants who was 31 or younger at the time of the program’s initiation a two-year deferment from deportation as well as eligibility for a work permit.
Accordingly, while those already enrolled in it have been able to apply for renewal, Trump’s rescission of DACA has put new recipients and the future of the program as a whole at risk.
Since April 2015, Tufts has considered all undocumented students as domestic applicants for undergraduate admissions. Tufts also reiterated its support for undocumented students on the same day that Trump decided to phase out DACA, according to previous reporting by the Daily.
Additionally, the university filed a declaration alongside a Sept. 6, 2017 lawsuit by 16 state attorney generals, which included Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, opposing the decision to end the program. The complaint stated that more than 25 Tufts students were enrolled in DACA at the time.
Similarly, two days after Trump’s decision to end the program, Tufts United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ) issued a statement in which they denounced the Trump administration’s decision and expressed concern that it could lead to serious consequences for students, according to previous reporting by the Daily.
Members of UIJ said that they plan on releasing a formal statement about the future of DACA being argued at the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, Collins said that he hopes the amicus brief will help convince the Court to reverse Trump’s decision.
“We hope the amicus brief helps inform the Court about the positive impact that DACA has on both students and institutions of higher education and persuade the Court that the program should continue,” Collins said.