(This is a memorandum to the Montgomery College community issued by the College president, Dr. DeRionne Pollard, on September 5, 2017)
President Trump’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a sad development for the College, our local community, and our nation. It is disappointing that those who followed the rules established for their continued residency under DACA are now vulnerable to losing that status and the opportunity that it represents. It is disturbing that children and adults who, in most cases, know no other home than this country, may now have their families shattered. This announcement has created considerable anxiety among Montgomery College’s DACA students, their families, and friends. In the face of this decision, the College is committed to continuing its long term support of DACA students. Our College has a history of defending the right of all persons to study so that they can develop their talents and skills and better contribute to their communities.
Because today’s proclamation by Attorney General Jeff Sessions lacked sufficient details, the College is still investigating the potential implications for our students. I have asked my leadership team to create a comprehensive online resource through which student questions about this policy shift will be answered: potential impacts on financial aid, enrollment services, recruitment, admission, and more will be clarified. At this point the College is still awaiting complete information from the Trump Administration so that College leaders can assess how implementation fits with MC processes. I will communicate further about the College’s steps to support those affected as we learn more. Some basic information from the Administration is available at the Department of Homeland Security.
In the meantime, I urge the College community to let our DACA students and our Dreamers know that they are always welcome at Montgomery College. The College will be providing extra support for students who need help navigating the requirements of the Maryland Dream Act. Students should be assured that the College will protect confidential information about immigration status and student identity from any authorities without a subpoena. I am encouraged by some early bipartisan developments and will work tirelessly with Maryland’s US Senators and Representatives in the hope that Congress will find a permanent solution for our DACA students. The College will continue to fight to allow DACA students to keep the tuition rates they currently enjoy. I will consult with the Board of Trustees and the Montgomery College Foundation to explore ways in which the College might help DACA students to continue their education at Montgomery College if a legislative solution is not created. It is my fervent hope that DACA students at MC will focus on their studies and continue working towards their educational goals. These students are a vital part of our community—our friends, our classmates, and our neighbors—and deserve the dignity of developing their talents through education.
As I said in my statement on Friday, September 2, hundreds of DACA students at Montgomery College are diligently studying to improve their lives and those of their families. Their talents, perspectives, and work ethic are integral to the character of our College and our county, and contribute to the strength of our workforce. Barring their legal participation in our communities is not only an injustice to them, but a loss for our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. This decision undermines our nation’s commitment to immigrants, and to our historic role as a land of opportunity. Since many hard working DACA students would be unable to afford college tuition without the work permits that DACA provides, many would be forced to end their studies, curtailing their ability to contribute to the communities in which they were raised. Several prominent humanists have been credited with this statement, which captures a sentiment I share about this historical moment: “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members—the last, the least, the littlest.” I urge lawmakers and citizens to keep this in mind as they consider how our DACA students are treated. The College remains hopeful that Congress will extend DACA benefits permanently through legislation, and allow our DACA students access to the dignity they deserve and the opportunity for which our nation has become known for so many generations.