Dear CCNY Community,
We have 6 months. Let's not waste a single day merely bemoaning the stubborn and cruel decision to end DACA and throw the lives and families of nearly 800,000 Americans into chaos and insecurity. We have 6 months to develop a plan of action to defend our Dreamers, and that means we must get busy from day one.
DACA recipients came to this country as children – over 50% before they were 10 years old. Most have no real memory of, or connection to, any country besides the US. To receive DACA status, they passed tests of lawfulness, courage and industriousness that native born Americans need never face. They have paid taxes, bought homes, served their society. They are among our best neighbors and brightest hopes. They belong in this country and we should be proud to have them here.
CCNY and CUNY stand resolutely in opposition to the repeal of DACA, and to any measure, taken by government or individuals to curtail the liberty, dim the prospects, or undermine the integrity of the new Americans that work, learn and live among us. Our college is utterly unconcerned about where you came from or how you got here. We care about the future of our society, as embodied in the dreams and potentials of every student on our campus. We are not neutral on this question, and so I do not write in the spirit of neutrality. On this issue, our campus is a partisan campus. Period.
The question we now face is what are we willing to do in the face of this terrible decision? The DACA repeal came with a caveat: that the legislature has 6 months to work out a humane and forward-looking alternative to DACA. (Never mind that DACA was a safety net to protect people precisely because congress repeatedly failed in that task.) So, how will we spend the next 6 months?
We have three avenues for action, and at CCNY, I suggest we advance down each of them.
First, we speak out in protest. We have marched on this campus and spoken our good intentions into microphones, and will do so again. But we need now to join our voices to those of people around the country, in our writing, with spoken words, and in the assemblies we choose to join. We need to keep one another abreast of protest actions in support of Dreamers, and be willing, as CCNY bodies, to join those assemblies.
Second, we must apply pressure. As individuals and as a campus, we must exert as much pressure on our elected officials as we possibly can. In the very recent past, we have seen how massive public resistance and pressure on government turned the tide against the Affordable Care Act repeal by making the electoral stakes of the decision crystal clear. Five years of DACA has strengthened the interests in our society for finding a way to provide security to our Dreamers—because even immigration skeptics have grown accustomed to the benefits that followed from bringing Dreamers into the light of legal standing. Those interests, and the costs of violating them, need to be made explicit, to encourage those who carry our fight forward, to give pause to those who stand in opposition to Dreamer security, and to convince those who may waver on the issue.
Third, we must safeguard our Dreamers. On this campus and in our city, we must offer protection, encouragement and support. We must all learn the rules of engagement with immigration officials, the first and most important of which is this: if at any time an immigration officials enters our buildings, calls one of our phone lines —inquires in any way after any of our students- every single one of us must respond only by referring the inquiry to Executive Counsel to the President, Paul Occhiogrosso (firstname.lastname@example.org; 212-650-8276). And, when a Dreamer needs help, we must be prepared to offer it, via the City College Immigration Center, in our capacities as CCNY employees or students, and as a personal commitment. We must think carefully and plan well what we shall do when the security of any member of our community is threatened by the repeal of DACA.
So now it is time to plan. In the days and weeks ahead, I will convene a series of meetings, some small, some large and public, to plan the concrete ways in which we can advance this agenda. I ask each of you to think hard and pay attention. I firmly believe that in the years ahead, we will each be asked what we did when our neighbors came under this heart wrenching threat. Let's make sure we can answer with pride.