President Trump and the Department of Justice announced plans to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in early September. DACA is a policy established by the Obama administration that allows deferred action to illegal immigrant minors from deportation to be eligible to work in the United States.
Bob Gatti, vice president and dean of student affairs, spoke to the Otterbein University Student Government at their September 7th meeting about this issue. Gatti spoke on behalf of Otterbein on what the university will do following the president's decision and how the Otterbein Police Department will conduct should a student's immigration status brought to question.
“[It] won’t have any impact on our financial aid,” said Gatti. “Their Otterbein aid will stay the same regardless.”
“OPD does not enforce immigration laws and they will not enforce immigration laws," said Gatti. "When they stop, they don’t ask anybody if you’re a U.S. citizen, they ask if you have a student I.D. card and if you’re driving a vehicle whether you have a driver’s license.”
Larry Banaszak, chief of police, confirmed Gatti’s statement.
Otterbein president, Kathy Krendl, says she will still support the students of Otterbein.
“We deplore the action to end DACA, will support our DACA students and unequivocally stand with any of our students who may be impacted,” said Krendl in an email to the Otterbein community.
Krendl stated Otterbein will be joined with 14 other independent Ohio colleges and universities to urge congress in creating a permanent solution to protect dreamers, as individuals enrolled in the DACA program are called.
"In the back of my mind I knew this was going to happen at one point," said junior global studies major Bertha Jaramillo Alfaro, a student currently enrolled in the DACA program. "It's a temporary thing, it's not a permanent thing."
Attorney Jessica Rodriguez Bell said that many legal authorities do not know the details of the revoked policy, while speaking at the DACA and the Dreamers event on September 11.
“Unfortunately, we have very little information to go off at [this] time,” said Rodriguez Bell. “We’re trying to scramble to gather information to give to our clients. What we do know with Trump’s announcement is that it effectively ends DACA as of March 5th of 2018.”
Otterbein students impacted by the DACA decision can contact student affairs or the counseling center. If outside help is needed, the Rodriquez Bell and DiFranco Law Office in Worthington will give free consultations. Students can also talk to Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus if they do not wish to speak with a lawyer.
Jaramillo Alfaro said, "I'm okay in a sense so it doesn't really affect me but it's still scary and we're still in a limbo."
“We’ll see that these folks if they want to graduate, we’ll [allow them to] graduate,” says Gatti. “We will do everything to help them.”