The Hispanic Business Students Association hosted an open panel regarding the dissolution of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and its impacts on University of Michigan students and staff Thursday at the Ross School of Business’s Blau Hall. About 55 students, prospective students and faculty members attended the event.
President Donald Trump announced the end of the program, which protected undocumented child immigrants from deportation as long as they maintained certain requirements and lacked significant criminal history, in early September. However, DACA will only officially dissolve on March 5, 2018.
Business Dean Scott DeRue gave the opening remarks, citing the conversation’s importance and the school’s lawful responsibility to support students.
“There are two guiding principles to every decision that we make as a University and as a business school,” DeRue said. “First, we have to be lawful. Second, everything that we do with the law is going to be student-centric and student-focused. We will do everything in our lawful power to support you.”
Panelist Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, associate professor of History and American Culture, then moved to debriefing the history of DACA and the societal gaps in American immigration policy. He also noted that illegal immigration peaked in 2007 and that since then, immigrant migration has been a net negative.
“From my perspective, because immigration reform over the last 30 years has focused almost exclusively on enforcement and criminalization, the population that is now undocumented faces a wider gap (or as wide a gap as has ever existed in this country) between people of different statuses,” Hoffnung-Garskof said. “You can think of immigration law as the law of determining who and how people get in, or you can think of immigration law as the law of determining how people of different statuses have different access to rights and benefits.”
The panel then moved to a discussion of legal parameters by Rebeca Ontiveros-Chavez, attorney and Department of Justice-accredited representative for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, who said she would have had to apply for DACA had she not had another form of immigration relief available. Ontiveros-Chavez explained how the removal of DACA will affect recipients’ higher education, driving, travel, finances and other means.
“In terms of driving after the DACA resignation, if you have a Michigan driver’s license, a Michigan driver’s license is only valid in the same period as you have proof of legal status,” she said. “Once your proof of legal status expires, the license is no longer valid, unless you obtain another form of legal presence under Michigan law.”
LSA junior Daniel Lopez said he works with undocumented students on campus and plans to use what he learned at the panel to assist the groups he works with.
“I am an advocate for immigration reform, so what we do is gather all of the information we can and then get this information to our community to have them call their elected representatives,” Lopez said. “We should have a clean DREAM Act.”
For those who are facing anxiety over the termination of DACA, Business graduate student Elizabeth Padilla, vice president of the HSBA, gave advice on attempting to live a normal life while encountering immigration challenges.
“It is a difficult position to be in because there are a lot of unknowns,” Padilla said. “All you can do is continue to push forward and live your life as normally as possible while also being active and pushing your peers to understand what’s going on and that they can also be allies and advocates and make change.”