On Sept. 5, anxiety fell upon many in the Goshen community as President Donald Trump ordered the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Since its conception in 2012, approximately 800,000 young people have benefited from DACA, including a handful of Goshen College students. The policy allowed young adults who were brought into the United States at a young age the opportunity to work and study in the US legally without fear of immediate deportation. Now, according to the New York Times, officials said that DACA recipients could become eligible for deportation as early as March 2018.
Goshen College Interim President Ken Newbold said that as he heard the news about the rescission of DACA, his first question was, “How do we help our students?”
“That’s what our campus is about; it’s about our students,” Newbold said. “It’s about the academic and college experience.”
Incoming Goshen College President Dr. Rebecca Stoltzfus also commented on the importance of all students receiving the experience of college. “When I begin as president, I will join Goshen College leaders at all levels—from stud
ents to administrators—to continue to provide full educational access to current and, I hope, future DACA students. I am glad to join a college that strongly stands to protect the safety and educational experience of every student.”
Rocio Diaz, coordinator of parent and community engagement, said she can relate to the struggles many undocumentedstudents are facing but encourages them to continue on.
“[Undocumented persons] have potential like any other student,” Diaz said. “They should continue their fight. They should continue knocking on doors… For them, participating gives them more resources to feel empowered, for them to know they can do anything anyone else can do. They’re status won’t stop them from doing that.”
Goshen College’s plan of action, at the moment, is to supply its students with the resources they need to continue participating in the “academic and college experience.”
Newbold listed a variety of the available resources, such as extended counseling with professionals Lynnette and Conrad Showalter, and Nancy Rodriguez Lora who is fluent in both English and Spanish. Another resource provided by GC is the Goshen Trolley; students with Goshen College ID can ride the trolley for free. The trolley stops close to campus at the corner of College Avenue and 9th Street, as well as the corner of Main Street and College Avenue.
“We also want to get engaged and find ways to be involved in the policy and legislative development,” Newbold said.
Another resource available to students directly impacted by DACA is through the Center for Healing and Hope: Elkhart County HOPE (Helping Our People Everywhere). Elkhart County HOPE is a “network of businesses, churches, educators, non-profit organizations and individuals committed to helping immigrants and refugees.”
Through the network, students and their families can receive help paying legal expenses, a Goshen identification card, help paying for college and school expenses, food and meals, and more.
Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations, helped create Elkhart County HOPE to support the undocumented community within the broader Elkhart area.
“Right now, this is the civil rights issue,” Aguirre said. “… [DACA recipients] only wanted the chance to live in the only country they’ve known and make contributions… what’s wrong with that? How’s that hurting anyone?”
This past Saturday, Aguirre helped support the “Stand Up 4 DACA” rally held at Elkhart County Courthouse. There, two Goshen College students and recipients of DACA had the chance to tell their stories and explain why the DACA program is so important.
Aguirre said he was quite touched by the students’ speeches. “The DREAMers I’ve talked to, because they want to live in this country and because they believe in this country and they want to contribute, they’re not going quietly. They want to stay because it’s their country. That’s given a lot of us hope because they’re not giving up, so we shouldn’t give up on them.”
Here is a list of resources for students who are impacted by the rescission of DACA:
• Free on-campus counseling with professional counselors Lynette and Conrad Showalter (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com), and Nancy Rodriguez Lora (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is bilingual in English and Spanish.
• Free rides on the Interurban Trolley with a Goshen College ID.
• Goshen College’s Center for Intercultural and International Education (CIIE) can provide free legal advice, as well as information sessions for students and their families.
• Elkhart County HOPE Network (www.chhclinics.org) is available to support those impacted by DACA in a handful of ways – assistance in paying legal fees, transportation, food and meals, childcare and more.
• The National Immigrant Justice Center is offering free DACA renewal clinics on Sept. 21 and 26 for people whose DACA expires between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, as well as legal advice (www.immigrantjustice.org).
• LaCasa’s Immigration Services offers legal assistance in the city of Goshen for an affordable price.
• The Elkhart-Goshen Sanctuary Coalition is a group of churches “committed to providing sanctuary” for immigrant families and communities.