Dear Mr. President:
As the leaders of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Connecticut’s public higher education system comprised of 17 institutions, we are dedicated to providing students with opportunities to achieve their personal and professional goals. We count among these students those who are undocumented, particularly those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
As you and your administration debate the future of the DACA program, we strongly urge you to continue protections on behalf of all of these students. There are over 800,000 of these young men and women nationwide who were brought here as minors. For most of them this is their country and, in the instance of Connecticut, their state. They are part of our community and we want to ensure they have the education needed to contribute to our state’s economy and public life.
Many of these individuals attempt to pursue their dreams of achieving a higher education only to find obstacles in their way. They are ineligible for federal financial aid; in most states, they are also not entitled to receive any state or institutional financial aid. They are ineligible for in-state tuition in all but 16 states, even if they have lived and attended public schools in that state since kindergarten.
We have met with our undocumented students throughout our system, and while they all have different goals in mind and all of them express the uncertainty of what the future holds for them, they are committed to their institutions and their local communities here in Connecticut. They did not have a choice in how they arrived here, but they are asking for the ability to stay here to pursue their dreams without the fear of deportation. A number of these students only discover their undocumented status when they apply to college. DACA provides protection from the fear of deportation, which is the last thing young students need to think about when they are trying to pursue their dreams.
You have the power to make this possible for these students, either through continuing the existing DACA policy, or through supporting passage of legislation like the BRIDGE Act which would codify these protections. This is an issue you have publicly said is very difficult for you, and we fully acknowledge the exceptional position these students are in, and the decision that lies before you.
Mr. President, we strongly urge you to take action to support these students and help them pursue their goals.
Mark E. Ojakian
President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
Daisy Cocco De Filippis
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