At UMass Boston, almost half of the student population comes from immigrant families and many students and staff are DREAMers with undocumented or uncertain legal status. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and undocumented students at UMass Boston are not eligible for public sources of financial aid. Those with DACA and TPS status can pay in-state tuition rates, but immigrants without those temporary statuses are often not eligible, even if they grew up in Massachusetts. These students often take 8-10 years to complete a UMass Boston bachelor’s degree because they are paying by course. Without DACA, undocumented students are unable to acquire legal employment. Nationally, an estimated 800,000 young people have DACA status.
When President Trump declared that DACA was to terminate on March 5, 2018, I witnessed DACA students experience extreme psychological and emotional stress as they faced living in the U.S. once again without legal status or protection from deportation. As the March 5th deadline approached, federal judges ordered the Trump administration to temporarily reinstate parts of DACA, including allowing DACA recipients to renew their protected status. DREAMers, as well as our students from Haiti and El Salvador with TPS (Temporary Protected States), are living in limbo. They are a part of the fabric of our Boston communities, yet federal laws seek to exclude them.
UMass Boston faculty and staff can support our immigrant students. Faculty can refer students to Renata B. Teodoro, the Student Advocacy coordinator on campus for DACA/Undocumented students. The Undocumented Student Support page contains on-campus and off-campus resources, including where students can speak free of charge to an immigration lawyer about their specific case.
Faculty, staff, and concerned individuals can contribute to UMass Boston’s Immigrant Achievers Scholarship to help support our DACA/Undocumented students on campus. Also, please join the Blue Butterfly Campaign. Email the Student Immigrant Alliance to request a Blue Butterfly sticker to place on your door. This lets our immigrant students know that you are an ally willing to help students with uncertain status. I hope to see Blue Butterflies all over our campus so that our DACA/Undocumented students know that UMass Boston stands with them. This is one of the key civil rights issues of our era, and we as faculty are in positions to help defend the rights of our affected students.
Author: Cinzia Solari, Assistant Professor of Sociology