OU students may be left without DACA after the deadline to renew has passed

Along with the release of President Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program came his decision to allow those eligible to submit an application for renewal.  The stipulation, however, was that applications must be received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no later than October 5, 2017.

After the passing of the October 5 deadline, it is important for students at Ohio University and schools nationwide to understand what can happen during a period in which they are left without documentation.  This period may come between the expiration date of their DACA and the point at which they are notified that their DACA has been approved for renewal.

According to the immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream, if the USCIS does not approve an applicant’s renewal before his or her current DACA is set to expire, they will not have work authorization or DACA documentation while they wait for approval.

If applicants are concerned about their eligibility, they can turn to the USCIS website, which details the requirements of applicants for the program.

Immigrants are eligible if they attend some form of school.  With this aspect out of the way, Ohio University students do not have to worry about being deported if their DACA has not yet been renewed or is in the process of being renewed.

While OU students remain on campus during this waiting period, it is essential that they feel safe.  Although the university has not released new policies or rules regarding how to handle situations on campus involving the USCIS, student Housing and Residence Life members have received some basic information on what to do.

“If an agent were to come, we have to refer them to higher-ups,” said Alexis McCurdy, a sophomore and RA in Mackinnon Hall. “We didn’t receive any extra training on how to handle these situations, but we were given a paper with contact names on it.”

RAs in the residence halls might feel more of a responsibility for their residents in the wake of the DACA policy change, even though they may not know whether students are affected.

“I feel like since they gave us that  information that I’m definitely more alert,” McCurdy said.  “It’s because you never really know who could be affected by it, or what time these agents are even coming in.”

The privacy of students at OU is and always has been a priority for the university, and these new situations do not change that priority.

According to a university policy regarding student records implemented in 2014, approved by former president Roderick J. McDavis, university personnel and student employees will always be instructed on how to handle and maintain students records, especially regarding the confidentiality of the documents.

“We were told that we can’t give out any confidential information ourselves,” McCurdy said. “Nothing about that has changed.”

There are resources on campus available to assist students affected by the new DACA policies or those left without documentation while they await approval for their DACA.  If you are concerned about anything while on campus, you can seek help from your RA, or talk to a trusted faculty member to get help.

For more information on DACA policies, visit the USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/daca2017.

Featured image from OHIO Global Affairs’ Twitter page.

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