DACA Renewal Opportunity (Tuesday, Jan. 16)

To the Campus Community:

It is always important to emphasize Rutgers University’s interest in ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive. Across our University, Rutgers University stands alongside all of its students, including those who are undocumented. I am proud that the Rutgers–Camden community embraces the realization that our nation can prosper only if we strive to educate and retain creative thinkers from every walk of life.

As I stated last fall, I believe that the promise of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrants strengthens our nation’s prospects for economic growth and reaffirms our shared American values of compassion and the humane treatment of all people.

The pathway to securing legal documentation for DACA students and their families was cast into uncertainty during the fall. On Jan. 9, a California federal district court issued an order directing the federal government to resume accepting renewal applications for individuals seeking to pursue the American Dream under the DACA program. On Jan. 13, the administration issued a response to the court order, which included the steps for filing renewal applications for those who are eligible. It is likely that the judge’s order will be appealed, and a higher court may reverse or put a halt to the decision of the district court in California, so the opportunity for taking action may be brief.

The Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP) at Rutgers Law School has posted a concise summary of what is permissible under the federal court ruling. I encourage anyone concerned about his or her DACA status to view this document online.

The first and most urgent step is to seek RICAP’s assistance. Students currently enrolled at Rutgers are eligible for free and confidential legal consultation with RICAP Immigrant Rights Attorney Jason Hernandez. In some instances, representation may be available through RICAP directly or it may be by referral to a reputable attorney or to our own Immigrant Justice Clinic. Jason Hernandez’s office is located in E209 at our Camden law school. Contact him at jason.c.hernandez@rutgers.edu for a confidential meeting. RICAP and the Immigrant Justice Clinic also provide community education, guidance, and support. Interested community members should contact Jason or the clinic’s director, Prof. Joanne Gottesman (jgottesm@camden.rutgers.edu), to find out about available educational resources.

While this renewed opportunity for DACA applicants is encouraging, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding this situation continues to trouble those individuals and their families who are affected by DACA, as well as those of us who are determined to value and respect fellow members of our Rutgers–Camden family.

Some of you may be experiencing anxiety based on the uncertainty introduced by this decision. Our Student Health Services office is a resource that is prepared to offer support and assistance. I urge anyone in need of these services to contact Student Health Services at (856) 225-6005 or by visiting their offices on the second floor of the Campus Center, directly above the Corner Store. Our Office for Student Diversity and Inclusion also is an important resource for all of our students, and is located on the third floor of the Campus Center.

Rutgers–Camden is a supportive community where we all know each other. If you are an undocumented Rutgers–Camden student and feel exposed and vulnerable due to the uncertainty surrounding this program, know that you are not alone. Rutgers stands with you, and I pledge that we will do everything possible to help you successfully complete your Rutgers degree.

Our ability to learn from one another is a uniquely American virtue that allows us to thrive both here on campus and throughout our careers and our lives. As chancellor, I pledge to continue to advocate for the success of every one of our students. I shall do so in many ways, including as a signatory of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration’s founding statement.

I invite you to join me in these endeavors.

Phoebe A. Haddon, J.D., LL.M.

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