Solidify DACA in law


James Vander Hooven

Before President Donald Trump announced he would phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I, along with the other presidents of all of Massachusetts' Community Colleges, spoke out in support of those in the program.

In that letter, I reaffirmed my commitment to educating every student stepping through the doors at any of Mount Wachusett Community College's campuses regardless of their immigration status. That will never change. That should never change.

What has changed since I first signed that letter, is the discussion around DACA that President Trump's announcement has forced. While many, myself included, were shocked at the president's decision, I would hope now we can look past rhetoric and focus on legislation. The more I have thought about this decision, the more I have come to appreciate the importance of incorporating DACA, or similar law, through proper legislation. Congress should embrace this opportunity to do what is right and do it rapidly.

Executive orders should not be the default action, especially when it can continue a status of limbo with very real consequences for those affected by the orders. By solidifying in legislation protection for those who lack citizenship after coming here at a young age, we as a country would embrace not only our country's heritage of compassion and inclusion, but a group of 800,000 workers to help this country continue to thrive.

An estimated 8,000 of those dreamers reside within the state. Taking away the ability for these young people to get a higher education and contribute to the economy would be a loss to this state.

Let us cut through this economic argument for a moment. I believe monetizing the impact of whether we have DACA is a red-herring argument. Common decency, without much help, clearly establishes maintaining DACA under law is the right thing to do.

We live in the United States of America, where our leaders have a moral obligation to be a shining beacon for the world. Period.

DACA is not just a cut-and -dry economic formula. These are real people. They have shopped at the mall, rooted for the Patriots and probably had class with one of your children or grandchildren. They are currently able to continue their American lives beyond high school by enrolling in college and joining the workforce. In short, DACA merely allows these dreamers to continue the only life they have known and continue to be contributing members of society.

We all need to dream. The ability to dream, build, and succeed is the very essence of being an American.

By supporting one another's dreams, we are being true to who we are as a country while ensuring future greatness.

James Vander Hooven is president of Mount Wachusett Community College.