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Dreamers at Delaware State University -- like this group that arrived at Del State in the fall of 2019 -- are elated over the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that left the DACA Program intact.
In this photo: Dreamers at Delaware State University – like this group that arrived at Del State in the fall of 2019 – are elated over the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that left the DACA Program intact.
On Campus

University celebrates DACA ruling with Dreamers

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Delaware State University is celebrating along with the Dreamers of the institution in the momentous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating a 2017 Trump Administration decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration relief program.

The June 18 ruling has prompted a collective huge sigh of relief for more than 600,000 undocumented children of illegal immigrants – particularly the 150 Dreamers who are enrolled at Del State through the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Those young people will now continue to be protected from deportation by DACA – which was created by a 2012 executive order by then-President Barack Obama.

“Our community can breathe easier,” said Tania Hernandez, a rising senior and nursing major at the University. “We as students in particular can now worry about more important things like our academics, rather than whether we are going to be deported out of the country.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – which acting on behalf of Trump Administration ended the program in 2017 – lacked sufficient reasons for rescinding the Obama executive order. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, called the Trump Administration action “arbitrary and capricious.”

Shannon Mendez Silva, another Del State Dreamer, said while she is elated about the ruling, there is still a bigger victory to be won.

“DACA is a temporary solution,” said Shannon, a rising senior and social work major. “It would be ideal for us to have a path to citizenship.”

Shannon added legislation that passed the U.S. House in 2019 would make that happen, but it has been sitting in the U.S. Senate since last year. “That is why advocating is really important,” she said. “Now with this ruling maybe they will be more willing to act on the legislation in the U.S. Senate.”

The ruling removes the troublesome cloud that has hovered over the Dreamers at Delaware State University since the TheDream.US/Opportunity Scholarship Program began in 2016. Since then, four cohorts of Dreamers have enrolled at DSU – with the first cohort becoming the first class of Dreamers to graduate last month.

Still, Shannon said she is still cautiously waiting for what comes next.

“Now we are looking to see what President Trump is going to do,” Shannon said.

While President Trump has the power to issue a new executive order to eliminate DACA, many legal commentators noted after the ruling that is unlikely – given the polling that shows a majority of Americans in favor of DACA and the fact that this is a presidential election year in which the incumbent president would be negatively impacted politically.

The ruling prompted University President Tony Allen to release the following statement:

“We are quite pleased with the outcome of this morning’s Supreme Court ruling.  

When Delaware State University was founded in 1891, the circumstances surrounding the education of African Americans were not substantively different than what our DREAMERS face today. The parents of DREAMERS contribute faithfully to the real American economy, yet very few colleges and universities offer their children affordable, state-sponsored education, even though they grew up in nearby American cities and towns.

We have proudly supported our DREAMERs since 2015 when then-Governor Jack Markell, Don Graham, and TheDream.Us asked us to answer the call.  Just recently, our first cohort of DREAMER students graduated.  They were among our best and brightest and are now forever a part of a grand legacy. 

Delaware State University will never turn our back on these students, and neither should any American institution that believes in these words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”