OWU’s Jones disappointed by DACA phase-out

Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones has voiced his displeasure with and concerns about the phase-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the program — instituted in 2012 by former President Barack Obama — will be phased out over the next six months.

“I am very disappointed by this action, which could harm hundreds of thousands of young people who are and will be making vital contributions to our economy and our civil society,” Jones wrote in a letter to the OWU community and posted on the school’s website Tuesday. “While I know not everyone endorses the DACA program, it has received bipartisan support by leaders in government, industry, and academia.”

According to OWU officials, records indicate that 25 countries outside of the United States are represented among the student body this academic year.

DACA provided protection from deportation for nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States by their families illegally when they were children. The program allowed them to be employed legally in the U.S. using two-year, renewable work permits.

Department of Homeland Security officials said those with permits whose renewals expire between now and March 5, 2018, will be able to re-apply, as long as applications are submitted by Oct. 5, 2017. No permits will be revoked before their existing expiration dates. Applications already submitted will be processed.

Trump said Tuesday the change would be “a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. … Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

Jones and the presidents of Oberlin College and Conservatory, The College of Wooster, Kenyon College, and Denison University have already contacted Ohio senators and congressmen concerning the issue.

“I look forward to working with our leaders in Ohio and Washington to support and promote a legislative solution,” Jones wrote in his letter. “To that end, I have joined with the other presidents of Ohio Five institutions, and we have sent a letter to Senator (Sherrod) Brown and Senator (Rob) Portman requesting that they act to protect DACA students. … I also discussed the issue at length with Congressman (Pat) Tiberi in my office last week.”

The letter from the Ohio Five presidents to Brown and Portman reads, in part, “DACA students — who have defied every obstacle in order to pursue education at our colleges and others around the state — are persistent, talented, and successful members of our academic communities. They grew up in our country, excelled in its high schools, and now stand ready to contribute to our nation. Cutting short their educations through threatened deportation denies them — and us — the promise of that future.

“We urge you to uphold the provisions of DACA and take legislative action to move beyond executive order to a law ensuring its continuation. A permanent path forward for these students, American in all but legal status, secures their education and the valuable role they play on our campuses today and in Ohio and the world tomorrow.”

Echoing sentiments expressed by Jones, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took to Twitter on Wednesday morning, posting, “Dreamers didn’t choose to come here, but they made the best of it. We should welcome them — Ohio welcomes them.”

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Kasich stated, “By the way, if the Dreamers want to go somewhere and live, come to Ohio. We want all the immigrants to come to Ohio, because we know how much they contribute to America. I wouldn’t be in America if it wasn’t for immigration. Who knows, maybe I’d be the president of Croatia.”

The estimated 4,400 “Dreamers” in Ohio contribute about $250 million to the state’s gross domestic product.

The OWU Chaplaincy held a rally Wednesday evening outside the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center to protest the DACA phase-out.

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By Andrew Carter

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Contact Andrew Carter at 740-413-0900. Follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.