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The State of Play on DACA: Trustee Voices Needed at This Critical Time

The State of Play on DACA: Trustee Voices Needed at This Critical Time

Following the administration’s announcement that it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, AGB has added its voice to a range of advocacy efforts urging Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution to protect those who are living, working, and studying in the United States under this program. AGB released an immediate statement to the press, sent two letters related to DACA—to both the congressional leadership and the White House—and urged our members to contact their members of Congress about this issue. Per the administration’s directive, Congress has until March 6 to pass a legislative alternative to keep DACA in place. It is critical that trustees continue to communicate with congressional lawmakers over this important issue, which affects many students enrolled at our colleges and universities.

To assist members in their advocacy, below are several updates on the current standing of DACA negotiations in both the House and Senate:

  • Although bipartisan meetings have occurred between Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the administration, negotiations have stalled over whether tougher measures on illegal immigration and increased border security should be included in DACA legislation.
  • Many believe a DACA fix could be attached to a “must-pass” piece of legislation, most likely a bill required to fund the government. Currently, Congress is attempting to move legislation that extends the current funding deadline from Dec. 8 to Dec. 22. This legislation currently does not include a DACA fix. Democrats have reported that they will not pass this bill unless it includes provisions related to DACA. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that DACA would not be part of this spending bill and should be considered separately.
  • As several key “must-pass” pieces of legislation are scheduled for consideration before the end of the calendar year, now is a critical time for continued advocacy on the issue. How Congress will deal with it remains fluid.

In the past several weeks, AGB has facilitated outreach from trustees with 22 members of the Senate, where the vote margin to pass any legislation containing DACA provisions will be particularly important. By identifying trustees within our network who have personal connections to these lawmakers, AGB is working to ensure that those whose votes matter most hear the concerns of the higher education community and its fiduciaries. As we enter a crucial phase of the DACA effort, and more and more senators seem to be supportive of some sort of fix, obtaining the support of House Republicans—who have significant differences among their members—may now be the single biggest challenge to DACA supporters.

We urge AGB members to add their voices to this vital effort to find a permanent fix for DACA. Please contact your senator or representative—especially members of the majority party—and let him or her know how important this issue is to your institution and the higher education community as a whole.

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