John Jay and CUNY Push For DACA Renewal

John Jay and CUNY Push For DACA Renewal

John Jay and CUNY Push For DACA Renewal

There has been an outpouring of criticism in academic circles across the U.S., and especially at CUNY and John Jay, in reaction to efforts to rescind DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration put DACA in place to protect young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and have remained here ever since.

John Jay president Karol Mason has been vocal in her support of undocumented students, often called “Dreamers.” In a statement on the subject, she said, “we are committed at John Jay to doing everything we can to support and protect our students, regardless of immigration status.” It is estimated that there are between 500 and 1,000 undocumented students at John Jay College.

The College is adhering to guidelines in place whereby the institution will not disclose any immigration information about students unless legally required. These protections are consistent with the policy outlined by CUNY and Chancellor James Milliken.  In a statement of his own, Milliken said, “We are fully committed to the thousands of CUNY DACA students and will do all we can to support them. They represent some of the most talented and creative voices in the CUNY community and our city. We will do everything we can to help persuade Congress to shore up support for the DACA community, not undermine it, and CUNY will provide counseling and guidance to help our DACA students with their needs and questions.”

On September 6, Milliken made an appearance at John Jay College alongside Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who announced that he was filing a lawsuit on behalf of New York State (along with 14 additional states and the District of Columbia) challenging the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. In a statement issued the following day, President Mason said, “Yesterday, we all witnessed what it means to be a Fierce Advocate for Justice… We will join with the overwhelming chorus of voices speaking out against the decision to rescind DACA, and leverage our resources to persuade Congress to right this obvious wrong.”

Faculty, staff, and students around campus have been organizing to provide additional resources and support for undocumented students.  These include: advertising free renewals of DACA applications; the creation of community safe spaces such as “Pizza Mondays,” an event put together by the Latino/a Studies department that takes place each Monday where undocumented students can get together to talk and discuss immigration issues; confidential counseling support offered by the Wellness Center; and other legal and financial resources.

Isabel Martinez and Nancy Yang are two of the many John Jay faculty and staff members deeply involved in the movement to protect Dreamers on campus. They help run the DREAMers Club and organized Pizza Mondays. According to Martinez, “My classrooms have been very upfront about teaching about undocumented students.” She meets with her students individually so she can offer support.

Martinez has also been raising awareness about different scholarship opportunities (most undocumented students aren’t eligible for financial aid) and additional legal protections that might be available such as Special Juvenile Immigrant Status.

To learn more about the resources available to undocumented students at John Jay, click here: