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Duke joins 18 universities to file amicus brief defending DACA

Duke has joined 18 other colleges and universities in filing an Oct. 4 amicus brief in the Supreme Court that defends of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to a news release.

In 2017, President Donald Trump attempted to rescind the executive order, which protects almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation. The program has been in limbo as lower courts hear challenges to the repeal, and the Supreme Court will soon take up the issue.

“The DACA program is important to Duke students, employees and their families,” wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email.

He emphasized that Duke has also publicly supported the DREAM Act, which would enshrine DACA in law, and “other proposals that have made it possible for Duke to educate and employ individuals from a wide range of backgrounds.”

There are numerous DACA recipients at the University. Some of them, including senior Axel Herrera Ramos, have helped lobby for legislation protecting Dreamers. 

“I am truly proud that the university has stepped in various times to weigh in their support for undocumented immigrants,” Herrera wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “And over the past three years those of us on campus who have been able to have discussions with administration have definitely felt supported.”

He added that he hopes Duke will also take an “active role” to support the 25,000 DACA recipients in North Carolina—who he noted are not eligible for in-state tuition at public universities—and combat immigration enforcement.

This is the third amicus brief that Duke has filed in defense of DACA, according to the news release. President Vincent Price issued a statement when Trump first attempted to end the program, affirming the right of undocumented students to study at Duke. 

The filing states that DACA recipients at the 19 schools are “some of the most gifted and motivated young people in the world.” It notes that ending the program would prevent these students from taking full advantage of the opportunities that the schools offer, such as research and off-campus internships, as well as making them unable to use their skills for the public good.

“These young people now have the skills to give back—in ways big and small—to the country that raised them,” the document states. “And they want nothing more than to do so.”

The brief also emphasizes that DACA recipients have spent most of their lives in America. 

“DACA students are American in everything except immigration status. They came of age in this country, excelling in our elementary, middle and high schools,” it states.

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