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Stanford files amicus brief in support of DACA program

The brief, filed Friday, argues that ending DACA would unfairly force program participants to choose between “withdrawing to the margins of our society and national economy or returning to countries that they have never called home.”

Stanford and 18 other universities jointly filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing the Trump administration’s effort to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. 

The brief, filed Friday, supports the Regents of the University of California’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2017. It argues that ending DACA would unfairly force program participants to choose between “withdrawing to the margins of our society and national economy or returning to countries that they have never called home.” It also argues that ending the program would discourage more than 1,000,000 undocumented children in the United States from pursuing their educational and professional goals.

“To achieve their ambitious goals of advancing knowledge and improving our society, schools must be able to identify and educate the very best students, and those students must be able to work after graduation,” the brief reads. “Ending DACA would unjustly sideline a discrete group of students.” 

Other schools joining Stanford in the brief include seven Ivy League schools — all except Princeton — as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. 

The Obama-era program, first introduced in 2012, has allowed 700,000 undocumented youth to obtain legal status in the United States. Two years prior, then-Stanford president John Hennessy co-authored an article in POLITICO with then-Harvard president Drew Faust in support of allowing undocumented students pursue higher education in the United States. 

After a federal appeals court ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind the program in 2018, the government began accepting renewal applications from DACA participants filed in two-year intervals. The Trump administration has maintained its objection to DACA, arguing that Obama did not have the executive authority to create the program in the first place. DACA’s defenders charge that the government violated federal law by attempting to end the program, particularly the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment. 

The amicus brief is the latest in U.S. universities’ fight against DACA’s survival two years into President Donald Trump’s order to phase out the program. 

Responding to the initial announcement in 2017, University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote in an online statement that DACA recipients were “already full-fledged members” of the Stanford community and that it was unfair for them to “face uncertain futures due to their immigration status.” 

Stanford has also promised to protect the privacy of undocumented individuals and provide them with legal aid after the Trump Administration announced the start of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids earlier this year. Stanford also provides counseling and support services for DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants more generally through the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at the Law School and the Bechtel International Center. 

The Supreme Court will hear the case during its next term, which begins this month.

Contact Berber Jin at fjin16 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Daniel Yang at danieljhyang ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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