CORRECTION: The version of this story in the Sept. 13 issue of The Metropolitan contained inaccuracies. A quotation about immigration enforcement should have been attributed to Auraria Police Chief Michael Phibbs, not to Steven Lee, assistant director of the MSU Denver Counseling Center. Also, the CARE Team (Consultation, Assessment, Referral, Education) is a part of the Dean of Students Office, not the Counseling Center, and Immigrant Services was called Immigration Services. The Metropolitan regrets the errors.
Representatives of students and faculty from MSU Denver gathered in the Student Success Building on Sept. 11 to address the issues surrounding the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months.
“I genuinely don’t understand how people cannot be in support of this generation of young people who are here, through no fault of their own – but here – trying to get an education, trying to be productive members of society,” said MSU Denver President Janine Davidson.
Some of the biggest concerns DACA students face include loss of legal status, financial aid and access to in-state tuition. Students also fear that application information might be used to locate and deport them as well as their families. Current DACA recipients discussed their options for reapplying as well as alternative options.
Among the speakers was Auraria Police Chief Michael Phibbs, who addressed some of these concerns. Phibbs emphasized that MSU Denver is a sensitive area, similar to what some call a sanctuary university, and has been treated as such by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Phibbs said that ICE would likely not pursue recipients of DACA, and that they hope new legislation might offer more permanent solutions for these students.
“We don’t do immigration enforcement, and so we don’t plan to, and have not in the past, worked with ICE to try to track down people on campus,” Phibbs said.
The university upheld that possessing DACA status would not affect students’ ability to be admitted or their ability to apply for in-state tuition, so long as they have gone to a Colorado high school for the past three years and have applied for college within 12 months of graduating. Many of the panelists urged students to continue with their studies despite the stress and emotions they might be feeling.
Students who are worried about their expiring DACA status can attend a free DACA renewal workshop at 10 a.m. Sept. 16 in the Tivoli Student Center, Suite 320. Other resources include free support through the Consultation Assessment Referral Education Team in the Dean of Students Office, Tivoli 311, and MSU Denver Immigrant Services. Students and their families can also seek free legal advice on the first Wednesday of each month at the Centro San Juan Diego in Denver from 5:30-7 p.m.
MSU Denver RISE student representatives Iliana Chavez and Saira Galindo-Vasquez voiced their concerns about the sensitivity of faculty toward DACA recipients at the university.
“I think that we need an initiative to train the staff to make sure they know how to handle the issue with sensitivity,” Chavez said. “A lot of us don’t know what’s going to happen in six months and it’s really hard to deal with.”