Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. The program served as a way for minors who were brought into the country without their choice to receive deferred action on their status for a renewable period of two years. There are nearly 800,000 beneficiaries of the program, and roughly 8,000 of them live in Tennessee. The future of DACA has recently been called into question by President Donald Trump.
In an effort to make the college’s position clear, Maryville College President Tom Bogart released a memo to preempt the recent announcement that DACA would be rescinded.
“We believe ending the DACA program would have a negative impact on our campus community,” Bogart said in the memo. “ If a decision is made to rescind DACA, we will advocate for a reversal.”
As with last year’s travel ban, which was claimed by many to be a ban on Muslims, I decided to interview Bogart in order to clarify the college’s stance on DACA as well as his personal stance. I first asked him what caused the college to respond in this manner.
“This was a possible change in public policy that has a direct negative impact on students who are enrolled in Maryville College,” he said. “I believed it was important for me as the president to clearly articulate the college’s position. The students who are directly affected are fantastic people and if we were to lose them as students that would harm the campus community.”
Likely the main impetus for the College taking similar measures, and by some standards a further stance than the previous response to the travel ban, was the fact that MC staff and students are directly affected by DACA.
“The difference here is that, with the travel ban, we did not at that point have any students, faculty or staff directly affected by the policy,” Bogart said. “In this case we have students who are directly affected by the policy, so it is more urgent. But there is a similar underlying principle. The underlying principle is that Maryville College should be available to all who are able to benefit from it.”
Indeed this desire for easy access to higher-education is the cornerstone of its founder Isaac Anderson.
Bogart ceded that DACA isn’t perfect.
“As a program, it’s not ideal, both because of the clearly interim nature as a result of an executive order rather than legislation,” he said. “That being said, DACA is better than the absence of DACA.”
DACA is indeed not ideal, and there are some people speculating that Trump may have instigated the termination in order to force Congress to make a decision regarding immigration reform.
The response to the memo has been positive, with Bogart saying that both on-and-off campus responses have been very good. Going forward, the fate of DACA will likely be safe. As beneficiaries of DACA make up members of the armed forces, police, fire departments, and many other vital positions in society, the political capital one would need to end the program would far outweigh any short-term benefit.