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Jan. 20, 2017 will be the day that the 45th person will take the oath of office and become the President of the United States. As we grow closer to this day and further away from Election Day, many still question what to expect from the next administration. The feelings of uncertainty are greater for those whose lives could quickly be changed by the next president’s executive power and authority. One of these issues that will affect members of the Radford University community will be President-elect Donald Trump’s executive actions concerning undocumented immigrant students and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). DACA gives undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children, the opportunity to legally receive a two-year deferred action on deportation, which can be renewed, to remain in the United States. Using this program, an undocumented immigrant can go to school or work in this country. DACA was implemented in 2012 by President Barack Obama within the Department of Homeland Security. The program being put into place by President Obama using executive authority is why it can be continued or ended under following presidents. This will affect Radford University because as Robby Korth, with The Roanoke Times, has reported that Radford University Spokesman, Joe Carpenter, has said: “Radford has 11 DACA beneficiaries.” Following President-elect Trump’s inauguration, he could act quickly and end DACA early on, but we still do not know exactly what he will do.
The President-elect’s comments on the topic of immigration have been inconsistent and have not been greatly talked about following the election, so we are still left questioning what will happen, but looking into his party’s platform, we may be able to form some expectations. The 2012 actions by President Obama are addressed in the 2016 Republican Party Platform as the “executive amnesties of 2012.” The platform goes on to say that “these unlawful amnesties must be immediately rescinded by a Republican President.” This could indicate some drastic changes that will affect DACA beneficiaries in the future.
Radford University’s President Brian Hemphill has joined with over 450 college and university presidents across the country in signing a letter supporting the DACA program and undocumented immigrant students. President Hemphill commented “When we think about what is best for the students at all of Virginia’s campuses today, many of whom came to the United States at very young ages and have only known the United States as their home, I felt that it was right to send them our support in their efforts to obtain their college education,” in a statement to the Roanoke Times. This letter was written by Pomona College’s President David Oxtoby to signal support of the program and to attempt to influence the upcoming administration. The letter shares the benefits that the DACA program has given to their campuses. The letter states that the people are taking part in the program “are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.” The letter not only supports the inclusion of undocumented students but also says that it should be “expanded.” President Hemphill is among many Presidents from colleges and universities in Virginia in supporting this bill, such as President Tim Sands from Virginia Tech and Michael Rao President of Virginia Commonwealth University. The hundreds of university and college Presidents across the nation have united in supporting this program as “a moral imperative and a national necessity.”