The University of Maryland joined 49 peer institutions in filing a brief in federal court Nov. 1 urging the Trump administration to leave DACA intact.
The Trump administration announced the rollback of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in September. Congress has until March to come up with an alternative plan, or DACA protections will be phased out.
The amicus brief argues rescinding DACA is unconstitutional.
“This misguided, arbitrary and capricious decision will harm millions of remarkable young people,” the brief states. “But, critically, it will also harm the country, which will be deprived of the many contributions Dreamers would otherwise be able to make.”
This university’s participation in the brief was led by University President Wallace Loh, who used to serve under Napolitano as chairman of a Department of Homeland Security academic advisory board.
“[Napolitano] said, ‘Would you please join and suggest others to join on the amicus?'” Loh said. “So I said, ‘Absolutely.'”
DACA, an executive order from the Obama administration, allows undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children and meet certain requirements to study and work in two-year blocks.
Mike Poterala, this university’s general counsel, said eliminating DACA would amount to “pulling the rug out from under their legs” for young immigrants who have given their information to the federal government in exchange for legal status.
“The reason that we … joined this amicus brief is because we share the same concerns about the rescission of DACA as California does,” he said. “Almost all these students who benefit from the DACA program are basically Americans. They’ve been here most if not all of their lives and have been by-and-large productive citizens, productive students.”
The brief was filed in the University of California’s case against the Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Elaine Duke. The plaintiffs argue rescinding DACA is an unconstitutional violation of the rights of affected UC students, and was done out of “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.”
The University of California’s president, Janet Napolitano, was the department’s secretary from 2009 to 2013, and helped create the DACA program.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, alongside the attorneys general of Maine and Minnesota, joined the case in September.
While Laura Bohorquez, this university’s undocumented student coordinator, said via email that she couldn’t speak on the details of the brief, she also wrote “every step that the university makes in support of undocumented students is important.”
There are currently 132 students protected under DACA at this university.
Madelyne Ventura, president of Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society, said she only learned of the brief a few days ago, but “there’s a lot more to be done” in terms of helping these students.