Trump Administration’s plan to terminate DACA impacts Mercer students


Image: Photo provided by Morgan Whithaus

Protesters rally against the Trump administration’s reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

Vanessa Alva, Staff Writer

Mercer students are among those impacted by President Donald Trump administration’s announcement about the plan to terminate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order.

Former President Barack Obama passed the executive order approving DACA in 2012. DACA gave 800,000 immigrants or “Dreamers” a grace period to work, study and live without the threat of deportation.

The requirements to receive DACA include: arriving to the United States before 2007, being under the age of 31 by 2012, living continuously in the country, have no felony charges, have no more than three misdemeanors or a significant misdemeanor and be in school or have a high school degree or a general education development (GED), according to Homeland Security’s website.

DACA recipients pay a $495 fee renewal fee every two years.

Eduardo Rubio is a sophomore at Mercer University who is triple-majoring in economics, math and computer science. Rubio is a DACA recipient.

“[DACA] allows immigrants who came as children, such as me, a shot at normal American life. [It allows us to] get a social security number, [which then] allows us to get [a] driver’s license and a workers permit,” Rubio said.

Rubio said he always knew he wasn’t from the United States. However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he realized what this meant for him and others in his situation.

“Junior and sophomore year of high school is when everybody starts getting their driver’s  license, [and] the conversation of college starts picking up,” Rubio said. “I remember seeing all my friends be able to do all these things I wasn’t able to.”

According to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, DACA recipients are not eligible for federally funded financial aid including loans, grants and scholarships. DACA recipients also have to pay out-of-state tuition at public institutions. Some states allow them to pay in-state tuition; however, Georgia is not one of those states.  

“The financial barriers are enormous so for a really long time I did not think I would be able to go to college at all,” Rubio said.

Mercer University is a private institution, therefore DACA recipients like Rubio can receive merit-based scholarships like other students. The number of DACA recipients attending Mercer is not known.

Trump’s administration says DACA is an overreach of power.

“DACA was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result,”said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a public letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. “Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”

The administration said there is a six-month delay on the termination of DACA giving time for Congress to vote to make a long term legislative decision. “Dreamers” and other advocates are pushing for the approval of Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act. The bill was introduced to the Senate in 2001 and has been rejected several times.

“They’re using DACA as a political football. I don’t believe it is a political matter necessarily, it should be treated like a humanitarian matter,” Rubio said.

Mercer University has declined to comment regarding the announcement.