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Emory joins court brief supporting DACA students

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Emory is among 19 universities that filed an amicus brief Nov. 1 in support of students attending college while participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.

Established in 2012, DACA allows certain individuals who entered the United States as undocumented immigrants before the age of 16 to request deferred action from removal proceedings for renewable two-year periods.

The universities, all of which admit DACA students, filed the brief in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. The brief is in support of a motion for provisional relief in four cases pending before the court that challenge the Department of Homeland Security’s Sept. 5, 2017, memorandum rescinding the DACA program.

As distinguished American institutions of higher education, the universities "have educated and helped launch the careers of many celebrated leaders and innovators in all fields," the brief notes.

Like other students at these universities, DACA students aspire to be among the next generation of these leaders, the brief continues, "and by virtue of the DACA program — which protects participants against near-term deportation, allows them to work lawfully, and enables them to travel abroad — these students have been able for the first time to access educational and life opportunities on nearly equal terms with their peers."

In contrast, the decision to rescind DACA "deters young people from pursuing higher education and precludes the remarkable students enrolled at amici institutions from deriving the full benefit of their time on our campuses," the universities state.

"The government’s action therefore threatens amici’s ability to attract and educate the most talented individuals and so undermines their educational missions," the brief argues. "Indeed, ending DACA forces future scholars, innovators and leaders to choose between withdrawing to the margins of our society and national economy or returning to countries that they have never called home. Whatever they choose, their gifts and education are lost to this nation."

DACA students attending these universities "were selected because they are outstanding students," including valedictorians, student government leaders, athletes, artists and "role models for younger children in their communities," the brief states, describing them as "American in everything except immigration status."

The brief provides several examples of current DACA students or recent alumni who have made significant impacts through research and public service.

"While DACA did not provide our students and alumni a path to citizenship, it did offer them a measure of security and access to opportunities for educational and professional development," the brief states.

Rescinding the policy "impedes the ability of the undersigned institutions to advance their missions, imposes a direct harm on their current students and alumni, and deprives the United States of the benefit of the DACA students' considerable talents," the brief concludes. "Accordingly, the Court should grant Plaintiffs' request for provisional relief."

In addition to Emory, the brief is signed by Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.

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