Sessions: Dreamers program is being rescinded


Ryan Bretoi/Iowa State Daily

Students and Ames community members gathered during a walk-out protesting topics such as immigration and the presidential election on Nov. 16. 

Nik Heftman

Editor’s note: As of 2:42 p.m. on 9/5/17 this story has been updated to include the responses from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration will end the the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

The announcement came two days after several reports stated that the president would end the program with a six-month delay for Congress to act.

The DACA program was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012. The program allows allows individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to temporarily live, study and work in the U.S.

“The program known as DACA is being rescinded,” Sessions said in a press conference. “The executive order deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch tried to prevent. It contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border that yielded humanitarian consequences. It denied jobs to Americans. It was inconsistent with the Constitution’s balance of power.”

People granted protection under the program are often known as “Dreamers.” An estimated 800,000 Dreamers have been approved since the program was brought into fruition.

President Trump took to Twitter the morning of the announcement to preface it.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” the president tweeted.

The announcement also came almost a year after Iowa State students staged a walk-out to pressure university officials to put limits on their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. 

In November, hundreds of student and staff marched from the Agora to the Student Enrollment Services Building as part of a national movement calling for sanctuary campuses.

A sanctuary campus is defined by the American Association of University Professors as a campus that provides a safe space for undocumented students. Students organized the protest as a response to months of campaign promises from President Trump to end the DACA program and deport undocumented immigrants.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Martino Harmon addressed the protesters that day with the following statement:

“I can’t say much right now, but I can tell you this: We have always supported undocumented students. We will not pull [students] out and check immigration status; we will not turn our backs on you.”

In an email sent the night before Sessions’ announcement, Harmon said that he would not preempt a statement from the university.

“The University, not just the Division of Student Affairs, will determine how to move forward after a statement is made by President Trump,” Harmon said. “This issue has broad ranging impacts beyond Student Affairs or students in general. Many departments are anxiously awaiting this announcement and I am certain will be involved.”

Dr. Liz Mendez-Shannon, project director for Hispanic/Latinx Affairs in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, also provided commentary on the decision via email.

“What many view as normal, others dream for,” Mendez-Shannon said. “Learning about this community and how it is impacted teaches us about bravery and resilience. It is our duty to be engaged in our campus community and with the privilege to empower, education and connect, we can help elevate these voices in our campus community.”

Director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) Kenyatta Shamburger said that his office is aware of some students who have spoken with MSA staff about how they could be impacted based upon the President’s decision.

“The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will continue to do the work that we do supporting students through our vision, values and goals,” Shamburger said.

Gabriella Ramos, academic adviser for Aerospace Engineering, took to Facebook Monday morning to urge people to take action and express their support for Dreamers to their local state representatives.

“[The president’s decision] is going to affect so many people,” Ramos said. “First generation students struggle a lot. Removing DACA would slab a hundred other obstacles in front of them.”

Ramos is a first generation student. Her mother was raised in Durango, Mexico. Her mother traveled to the United States in 1977 in pursuit of a better life. Ramos said that she hoped the Trump administration would reconsider.

“I’m part of the [Latinx] community,” Ramos said. “All I can do is give my support.”

In a statement released early Tuesday afternoon, Interim-President Benjamin Allen expressed his concern and support for DACA students at Iowa State. 

“The DACA program has had a positive impact on our campus. The people who have benefited from this program are an important and valued part of our community,” Allen said in his statement. “Accordingly, we are working through our national higher education associations to advocate for a legislative solution that promotes stability for individuals eligible through DACA.” 

Allen’s statement also disclosed plans to hold another “Know Your Rights” forum, where “immigration officials and campus resource professionals will be available to address issues and questions related to DACA.” More information on the forum can be found at

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst also issued a response regarding the decision. 

“American has been and always will be a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws,” Ernst said in her statement. “However, many young undocumented children were brought here by parents, caretakers and so forth through no fault of their own.”

Ernst’s statement also emphasized the importance of Congress’s role in solving issues regarding immigration and modernizing the system. 

“While I do not support giving them citizenship, we must identify and pursue a measured approach that adresses their unique situation, but also respects the importance of our immigration laws and discourages future illegal immigration.” 

Senator Chuck Grassley also released a statement agreeing with the Trump Administration’s plans to end the program. 

“However well-intentioned DACA may have been, the program was created by executive edict rather than by Congress as the Constitution requires,” the statement reads. “Because of President Obama’s executive overreach, DACA has faced numerous legal challenges, and now President Trump has asked Congress to sort it out.”

Grassley continued by saying there needs to be a compromise that follows the laws in place in this country.

“Any legislative solution is going to have to be a compromise that addresses the status of those who have been unlawfully brought to this country and upholds the rule of law,” Grassley said. “President Trump should continue to work with Congress to pass reforms through the legislative process that encourage lawful immigration. In the meantime, I expect that the Administration’s immigration enforcement priorities will continue to target the thousands of criminals ahead of those who have otherwise abided by our laws.”

According to ACLU, there are about 3,000 people in Iowa are enrolled in the DACA program. They released a statement earlier today, saying young people around the country have accepted the program through good faith hard work.

“DACA has allowed these Dreamers to gain diplomas, earn a paycheck, start businesses, purchase homes, and fully contribute to this nation they call home,” ACLU’s statement said. “DACA also has provided daily peace of mind that they wouldn’t be deported back to a country they barely remember for an infraction as small as driving with a broken taillight.”

ACLU also said that the redaction needs to be met with bipartisan legislation. They called members of the Trump Administration who supported ending DACA a part of “ugly forces” and encourage Congress to stand on the side of Dreamers.