Northwestern joins force with 18 other universities in amicus brief, urges Supreme Court to protect DACA


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Northwestern joined 18 other prominent U.S. colleges and universities in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect DACA, a Tuesday University release announced.

Amy Li, Campus Editor

Northwestern University joined an amicus brief with 18 other prominent colleges and universities in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — a program President Donald Trump has attempted to rescind and called “illegal.”

The brief was filed in the height of the presidential campaign season and amid anticipation over the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term beginning this week. The Supreme Court will take up a number of high profile issues, including deciding on the future of the Obama-era DACA.

[Read the brief here.]

The program has protected around 700,000 undocumented children of illegal immigrants who were minors when they were brought into the country — often called “Dreamers” — from near-term deportation. DACA allows children who were under 16 when their parents brought them to the U.S. to remain in the county — as long as they arrived by 2007.

The amici includes Yale, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Duke, among other distinguished U.S. colleges and universities.

The brief argues that rescinding the DACA program would impose a direct harm on the universities’ current students and alumni and deprive the country of the benefits of DACA students’ considerable talents and contributions.

“The DACA students at amici institutions were selected because they are outstanding students,” the brief states. “Like their classmates, these young people were valedictorians, student government leaders, varsity athletes, inventors, academic award winners, accomplished artists, and role models for younger children in their own communities.”

President Donald Trump first ordered the termination DACA when he took office two years ago, but attempts to shut it down were blocked in lower federal courts.

DACA proponents argue the Trump administration failed to cite adequate reasons for the program’s termination, while the Justice Department has said DACA was always meant to be a temporary solution.

The brief also wrote that DACA empowers undocumented students to talk openly about their lived experiences, without which students would be silenced out of fear of retribution, thwarting higher education goals in facilitating meaningful and robust exchanges of ideas.

“The policy reversal places (DACA) students, many of whom these threats to DACA have silenced, in a position wholly at odds with the principles of academic freedom to which amici are fervently committed,” the brief wrote. “These students should not have to risk their own physical liberty — and that of their families — in order to tell their stories.”

Another 165 colleges and universities — among them Swarthmore, the University of Maryland, University of Michigan — also joined forces to file a separate amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to protect DACA.

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