University officials support Dream Act bill, education advocacy week

Cornell President Martha E. Pollack is calling on federal legislators to co-sponsor, support and pass legislation that would establish a road map to citizenship for more than 2 million “Dreamers” and several hundred thousand students who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure in the United States.

At the same time, Vijay Pendakur, Cornell’s Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, is pointing anyone interested in advocating for the legislation to additional information and resources, including an updated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page on the Office of the Dean of Students’ site.

These efforts by university officials are part of an education advocacy week that began April 29 in support of H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which, if passed, would provide permanent relief to DACA students, who currently receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. The U.S. House of Representatives plans to consider this legislation in early May.

H.R. 6’s provisions include: restoring the ability of states to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students who would otherwise meet residency requirements; expanding access to federal financial grants, loans, services and work study; and restoring the ability of those students to travel abroad.

Pollack sent a letter to each member of New York’s congressional delegation in support of the bill, thanking them for co-sponsoring it or requesting that they co-sponsor it, and encouraging them to vote for it when it reaches the floor.

“Cornell, which was founded on the principle of ‘… any person … any study,’ has embraced Dreamers and TPS students as an integral part of our community,” Pollack wrote, noting that they have been hardworking and highly motivated students. “They have already shown that they have the grit and tenacity to overcome challenges and succeed despite long odds. These young men and women deserve to continue their studies, start their careers, and live their lives without the constant fear of disruption or deportation brought on by sudden policy changes.”

Pendakur said that undocumented and DACA students “are an integral part of our Cornell University community, and as an institution we are committed to helping them achieve their academic dreams.”

The efforts of Pollack and Pendakur in support of H.R. 6 are on behalf of the university and as part of a national higher education week of action organized by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which Cornell is a member.

The Presidents’ Alliance is a coalition of U.S. college and university leaders working to raise awareness of immigration policy. Its partners in the week of action include the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

The Presidents’ Alliance has a toolkit on its site with additional information and resources.

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John Carberry