Dear SSA community:
The announcement to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months is a decision that challenges the core values and fundamental mission of SSA. As a school dedicated to inclusion, diversity, and social justice, we wholeheartedly support all in the SSA community – including students, colleagues, families, and the clients that we serve – who are affected by this action. We recognize how greatly their contributions and skills enrich the social work profession as well as our communities, here in the U.S. and around the world. Now we stand with them so they may continue their academic, personal, and professional pursuits, and express our commitment to them during this difficult time.
Our DACA students here at SSA are powerful role models in our community and on our campus. Know that we are proud of and committed to each of them as they address social inequality and injustice with compassion, imagination, and forward thinking. The University has urged the administration to continue the DACA program – and we concur – noting that it has allowed almost 800,000 students who live in the United States to pursue opportunities and flourish in innumerable ways, enhancing themselves, fellow students, and their communities.
During this period of uncertainty, our office of the Dean of Students has reached out to our DACA students and we will continue to provide information about available services on and off campus.
Nearly 100 years ago, SSA’s first dean, Edith Abbott said, “Never have we had a better time to examine carefully, thoughtfully, and even solemnly the immigration policies of our country.” Today, those sobering words resonate loudly, and compel us to reaffirm, in the strongest terms, our social work values and the need to continue DACA protections. In the coming weeks and as long as needed, we will make sure we provide all we can to support and defend our DACA students.
From David Nirenberg, Executive Vice Provost, and Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday formally announced that the federal government is terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed about 800,000 young people who live in the U.S. to pursue educational opportunities here.
President Zimmer and Provost Diermeier have argued strongly against this action. The University is unwavering in its commitment to supporting students, staff, and scholars who have come from other nations, including those with undocumented immigration status (whether or not they qualify for DACA), and it will continue to do so. As reflected in a letter sent yesterday to members of Illinois’ congressional delegation, the University would also strongly support efforts by Congress to address this issue through new legislation that protects the ability of DACA-eligible students, staff, and scholars to live in the United States and pursue their education and careers here.
We are continuing to review this policy change and its potential effects. The Department of Homeland Security has posted additional information on how it expects the change to affect individuals who currently qualify for DACA.
As part of our commitment to the needs of the campus community, the University has taken a number of steps to ensure our undocumented community members can continue to participate fully in University life and have access to resources they need to succeed. The resources will continue to be modified in response to new developments. These resources include:
- Information sessions, Know Your Rights workshops for the campus community, and legal screenings with attorneys from Chicago law firms.
- A website dedicated to undocumented students that includes an extensive FAQ section.
- Emergency financial assistance for undocumented students (contact Ireri Rivas at 773.702.2435 and firstname.lastname@example.org for information).
- Free individual and group therapy services tailored to the needs of undocumented students (contact SSS or CCSS for information on free group therapy sessions offered during Autumn 2017 quarter).
- Staffing the Student Support Services office, the charge of which includes serving the needs of undocumented students, with a special focus on the graduate divisions and professional schools.
This is a very difficult and potentially disruptive time for members of our community who have relied on DACA, and we will continue to work to ensure their success and well-being. We encourage members of the University community who are affected by these changes to contact any of our key support offices – Student Support Services (SSS), Center for College Student Success (CCSS), Office of International Affairs, Student Counseling Service, and Dean on Call – if you need assistance.