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Northwestern joins Supreme Court amicus brief in support of DACA

19 universities file brief opposing Trump administration’s efforts to rescind DACA

Northwestern University, together with 18 other prominent colleges and universities, joined an amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in a case before the Supreme Court. DACA temporarily protects from deportation undocumented students, often known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States as children, allowing them to study and work in the U.S. while under protected DACA status.

In September 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to rescind DACA, but several U.S. court decisions have blocked any action to eliminate the program. The Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on this rescission Nov. 12.

The brief argues that rescinding the DACA program would negatively impact not only the undocumented students themselves but also the country.

“The DACA students at [the institutions submitting the amicus brief] … are by definition the product of this nation’s education system and the communities that support it,” the brief states, adding, “… these young people now have the skills to give back – in ways big and small – to the country that raised them. And they want nothing more than the opportunity to do so. Driving them out now would be throwing away a tremendous national investment for no discernible benefit.”

The brief highlights several stories of undocumented students who have overcome great odds to complete their education and pursue careers that benefit society.

“Ending the DACA program would send a clear message to the more than one million undocumented children in the United States that the trails [these] students and alumni have blazed lead nowhere and are not worth following,” the brief states. “That message is antithetical to the commitment to equal opportunity on which this country was founded.”

The brief also highlights the importance of DACA to the universities’ missions to attract the best students from all over the country and the world. It points out that DACA has enabled undocumented students, for the first time, to access educational opportunities on nearly equal terms with their peers. 

“DACA students are American in everything except immigration status,” the brief states. “The United States now stands to benefit greatly by permitting the young people that it has raised to put their skills to their highest use. Forcing them to return to the shadows of our society by ending the DACA program would be a tragic mistake.”

Other schools that joined the amicus brief are Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.

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