Throughout the 2016 election, strong anti-immigrant rhetoric was being spewed from much of the conservative party, most notably from President-elect Donald Trump. While the most infamous of these policies came in the form of a supposed wall construction project that would span the border between Mexico and the United States, less dramatic, yet equally harmful proposals have been made by the incoming administration.
This includes President-elect Trump’s plan to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order made by President Obama in June 2012, which allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday or June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. Many DACA applicants have now become part of the student body at our very own university. With no signal from President-elect Trump of any sort of compromise or mediation on the matter, DACA and undocumented students are rightfully worried about their future prospects.
Days after President-elect Trump’s victory in early November, USF President Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. sent a university-wide email explaining how he will be navigating the new and unchartered territory surrounding DACA and undocumented students at USF. The San Francisco Foghorn commends President Fitzgerald in his swift response, as well as the comprehensive avenues the University plans on taking in regards to protecting DACA and undocumented students. President Fitzgerald even appeared on CNN last week, highlighting the fact that our university has approximately 80 DACA students, and that “[USF] will use every legal means to protect [undocumented students].” This is consistent with Mayor Ed Lee’s response to President-elect Trump’s success after election night, where he vowed to keep San Francisco a sanctuary city.
The response from USF contrasts starkly with San Jose State University’s email to students, which made no promise in pursuing avenues for protecting students.
President Fitzgerald and Mayor Ed Lee’s firm stance on protecting DACA and undocumented students does not only confirm the longstanding ethos of San Francisco being a historic refuge for those without citizenship, but emphasizes the fact that international presence at a university (and in a city) is what makes it unique and globally competitive.
If President-elect Trump were to repeal DACA, and pursue his goal of deporting undocumented immigrants, it would not only discourage student immigrants, but also immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators. The Bay Area’s own tech industry is just one example of how the city’s tradition of welcoming immigrants has created a vibrant arena of startups and entrepreneurs. It is likely that without the high influx of foreign students and workers, Silicon Valley and the greater tech industry would not be nearly as impressive or successful as it is today. Apart from being morally questionable, President-elect Trump’s potential repeal of DACA could seriously slow the tradition of American innovation.
Perhaps even more appalling are the underlying reasons as to why such a policy would be repealed. Unlike the conservative argument of immigrants stealing American jobs, nowhere within the party has there been talk of foreign students taking American student spots at universities. While this would seem to be the most reasonable argument for repealing DACA, the absence of it seems to reveal a push into a much darker realm of immigration policy. If it is not about providing more room for native-born American students, President-elect Trump seems to only be utilizing xenophobic sentiments to justify his pursuit of blocking foreign students from the country.
Before Nov. 8, it seemed as if President-elect Trump’s alarming anti-immigrant policies were going to be swept into the history books, another time America came close to accepting and implementing xenophobic policy yet another time. This is now our reality. The San Francisco Foghorn believes that as a university and a community within a city as welcoming as our own, it is imperative that we stand strong against potential deportations within our student body. While many leaders, including our university president and mayor, have been outspoken in their support for DACA and undocumented students, it is time that those who would like to preserve our sacred inclusiveness follow in their footsteps.