“Fellow Humans,” Defend DACA!

News reports over the past several days indicate that President Trump may be contemplating the elimination of the program that supports hundreds of thousands of young people living in this country brought here without documentation by their families. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) has helped so many continue their education, find work and, perhaps most importantly, live without fear of deportation. Eliminating DACA would be a terrible step backward, making more vulnerable young people who should instead be given every opportunity to make the most of their lives and contribute to their communities.

I want to reiterate that Wesleyan has welcomed and will continue to welcome students to apply for admission and, if accepted, to enroll regardless of their immigration status. We will continue to treat undocumented students, with or without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who apply to Wesleyan identically to any other U.S. citizen or permanent resident in their high school. We are outraged by the current administration’s efforts to scapegoat immigrants, and we reaffirm that we will make every effort to help our immigrant students thrive. A campus-wide committee comprised of students, faculty, and staff worked the past year to make recommendations pertaining to undocumented students as well as those impacted by immigration policies targeting citizens of Islamic countries. We continue to put together resources to help members of our community impacted by these policies, and if you would like to become involved, contact Antonio Farias in the Office for Equity & Inclusion.

In November 2016, Wesleyan declared itself a “sanctuary campus,” and we stand by our pledge not to voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to deport our students, faculty or staff solely because of their citizenship status.

We join many other institutions in urging the White House to maintain the DACA program, and we ask Congress to protect this program with legislation.

In the spring, we awarded an honorary doctorate to Cristina Jiménez Moreta, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream. In her remarks at Commencement, Cristina underscored how important it is that institutions of higher education support the dreams of young immigrants:

Because as we speak there are some powerful leaders telling people like me and my family that we are criminals and that we don’t belong here. They are doing everything to target immigrants, refugees, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ and black people. And thousands are being detained, incarcerated, and separated from their families because of deportation.

So to be honest, immigrants like my family and other communities are going to need fellow humans who are committed to standing in the way of injustice and racism.

And you know what, looking at all of you here out here today and knowing you came from this place, I am very hopeful.

I am hopeful that you will lead with boldness and idealism, just like the mission of Wesleyan, and stand for inclusion and dignity for all people.

We will do our best to acknowledge the important contributions immigrants make to our country and to Wesleyan. We will be the “fellow humans” standing up for justice. #undocujoy

15 thoughts on ““Fellow Humans,” Defend DACA!”

  1. President Roth, I’m an conservative alum and I just want to make a friendly suggestion that expressing political opinions in your official capacity is not being inclusive. I respect your right to your opinion and Wesleyan as an private institution to set however documented or undocumented standards to admit students. Your administration’s support for DACA is not the issue. But you should do so, not with so much presumption of your position being a “moral given” that is so often applauded by your majority-progressive constituents on campus; while seen by your minority-right constituents as essentially preaching to the choir, endorsing the heterodoxy and effectively squashing any debate.

    An anecdote: I was on campus for the 2009 commencement and I vividly remember you raising the political hot-button issue of gun rights: and your explicit endorsement of stricter gun restrictions after the tragic passing of a Wes student via gun violence. Everyone clapped after your emotional plead, I felt instead extremely ambivalent. On one hand, I respected the majority of Wes folks’ right to express their political beliefs and mourn for a fellow student. On the other hand, I thought of the conservative students or their parents whose graduation ceremony just got politicized into a anti-gun rally that they did not sign up for.

    Another anecdote: I also attended the 2008 commencement and while I disagreed with every policy position of the speaker and of his “Audacity of Hope” cult-of-personality, Senator Barack Obama, I respected his speaking to his personal service as a community organizer day-to-day. Likewise, the University administration would do well to ditch the rhetoric of “establishing committees,” “belief statements,” and “honorary degree recipients,” and raise the resources and funding to substantive programs and their academic staff that actually help minority students academically, such as McNair Scholar Program, Upward Bound and Mellon Mays Fellowship. Respectfully yours,

  2. I am a Wesleyan alum and nothing makes me prouder to say that than the fact that Wes is a sanctuary campus. Defending DACA is defending all of our humanity.

  3. As a Wesleyan alum (class of 2003), I commend President Roth for joining many members of the campus community in denouncing President Trump’s cold hearted and highly destructive attack against undocumented students.

    Michael Hunt says Trump is only following the law. Well, the legal case for ending DACA is shaky at best (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/09/04/the-case-for-daca/?utm_term=.47917fdaebf0). But even if there was a strong legal case, laws evolve. Slavery, segregation, marital rape were all legal in our recent past (indeed, marital rape is still semi-legal in some states!).

    Jonathan Kolenberg suggests that President Roth should never express controversial political opinions lest he alienate conservative members of the campus community. But part of the university president’s responsibility is to display moral leadership. Would Jonathan suggest that university president’s should not have spoken out against issues like segregation and Jim Crow laws for fear of alienating conservative white alumni? I suspect that his true objection is not to the fact that Ross expresses controversial political opinions, but to the content of these opinions.

  4. Dreamers aren’t responsible for actions of their parents, but today’s whites are responsible for reparations because of actions of yesterday’s whites?

  5. Mr. Rosaldo, the real legal issue is the scope of executive authority. President Obama initially said he didn’t have the authority but then said he did and exercised it. DACA is a matter for the legislature because in our system we don’t want any one person vested with unlimited power. As to Roth’s moral leadership, he only exercises it for causes of the left. A university president should facilitate discussion but not use his position for personal advocacy regardless of what you think is a moral imperative.

  6. Hello Manuel, I really appreciate your comment. We do not agree but it’s clear that you care a lot about race and gender social justice; and standing up for people who are disadvantaged. However, I Just want to challenge you on your unconscious biases and use your comment as a teaching moment to check your liberal privilege.

    >”Would Jonathan suggest that university president’s should not have spoken out against issues like segregation and Jim Crow laws for fear of alienating conservative white alumni?”

    You are making a general broad statement like President Roth that all conservatives who are against DACA are racists. This is an automatic prejudice of the Left to label any dissent as “racist” and avoid engaging in substantive policy conversation; I wouldn’t support DACA for European or Asian undocumented dreamers either and I support legal immigration of Latino immigrants. Am I racist or am I racist by way of unconscious liberal presumptions?

    Also your liberal biases are implying that all DACA skeptics are “conservative white” people; this is extremely prejudiced against a lot of legal under-represented minorities immigrants who “played by the rules” waiting years for their GC or go through H1B visa and feel that they are now being shafted to the back of the queue (GC/J1/H1B annual slots are very finite resources and lottery-based). You made a ethnic presumption that all colored people must be for DACA when it like affirmative action is a complex issue and has complex racial intersectionalities.

    >”I suspect that his true objection is not to the fact that Roth expresses controversial political opinions, but to the content of these opinions.”

    Yes absolutely but I want to challenge your unconscious bias: you’re implying here that my opinions cannot be taken seriously because I am “a sexist, a racist and a homophobe”. If equating people’s political opinion to disagree with amnesty for illegal immigrants to being a bigot, without judging by the “content of their character” is not a form of prejudice, then what do we making of doing the same by another superficial moral labeling: ” the color of their skin”? Respectfully yours,

  7. Thanks for the response, Jonathan, which is refreshingly respectful for an internet forum. Nonetheless, you misinterpret my arguments. I did not call or imply that anyone was bigoted. I simply argued that (a.) just because something is currently the law doesn’t make it right, and (b.) university presidents have the right to express controversial opinions. We seem to agree on these points, right? if so, I would say that it would more productive for you to simply explain why you disagree with DACA, rather than to pretend that it is illegitimate for a University President to express opinions about an issue that literally may have life-or-death consequences for students.

    I respectfully disagree with, John Logan too. Yes, the decision to repeal DACA was justified based on arguments about executive overreach, but I posted an article that makes a strong case for why Obama was well within his authority to make this executive order. The real issues here are not about legal technicalities, they are about how we imagine our country’s constituents and its relationship with the rest of the world, as well as about how to advance social and economic justice in the face of a racist, imperialist global system.

  8. Mr. Rosaldo, you are a total leftist brainwashed whiner. We are a nation of laws and calling executive overreach a “legal technicality” based on Volohks’ questionable advocacy misses the point. You are so result oriented, you conveniently forget that there is a process deeply embedded in our legal system for changing your so-called “legal technicalities.” Your world view is very skewed as is many of your fellow “social justice warriors.” You are so riddled with your own implicit biases resulting in your seeing the world and this country as a “racist, imperialist global system” completely undermines what may be legitimate concerns. To continue on your path will inevitably lead to a traditional revolution and believe me, you are not prepared to prevail. Reasonable people understand that just being born in the U.S. means you are better off than 70% of the rest of the world.

  9. Some facts on DACA:http://dailysignal.com/2017/09/14/qa-need-know-daca/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningBell%22&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTURrNFpqTmhOalJtWmpneSIsInQiOiJCR3JXeHhUZjdJMFBoYWorekNHaEdcL2hSMjk1MHhRSVkzSjIxMUZlSG5cL1lUTkFZRW1pR3RrMG1vMzU2STY4TE02ZktBU2ZYVyt3TDdhSkdsTHN4S1lYWW9tZVBTaU5seTZscTZvY1ZSblRaUjNCYnR3TFZwZTBoVTBSMEZ5T1ZxIn0%3D

    Mr. Rosaldo, if the world is really a racist, imperialist global system, I don’t think social justice warriors like you would have much of a platform. You have a platform in the United States because this country is not a racist, imperialist system. Are there flaws, of course, all humans past and present are flawed. If you really knew history, you would know that the human condition doesn’t really change even though some material and observable gains can be made while we are alive and most people try, if they have a conscience, to make life better for others.
    Sadly, many of our leaders appear to devoid of a conscience. Also, with respect to University Presidents, most of us prefer that they do not give the impression that they speak for the entire university community but rather that they encourage dialogue on controversial subjects. Mr. Roth goes way over the line in his advocacy, avoiding key facts and simply regurgitating the views of the hard left in this country. There are already a plethora of hard left advocates in the academy not even pretending to be fair including Wesleyan’s faculty and staff.

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