Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Today’s announcement of the elimination, in six months, of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program represents a course of action that challenges some of the most foundational values of our nation and American higher education.
This cruel policy recognizes neither justice nor mercy. In the months to come, we will make every effort to have our voice heard, in the halls of Congress and elsewhere, about the need for the protections of DACA to continue. I write today to share information on available resources and, once again, to affirm the University’s strong commitment to supporting individuals who may be affected by these changes.
I recognize that this is a time of anxiety and frustration for the members of our community who are undocumented, many of whom have known no home country other than the United States. These individuals contribute to our community in outstanding and innumerable ways, and we are dedicated, at this time of deep uncertainty, to ensuring their inclusion and full engagement with university life.
Our deans of students and student services staff members across the University have begun reaching out to affected students. The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC) at Harvard Law School, which hired a full-time attorney to provide legal services to undocumented members of our community with support from my office earlier this year, will continue to offer legal and advising resources, as well as social work support, to those seeking guidance or counsel. HIRC has also established a 24/7 hotline for DACA and undocumented members of the community to call in case of emergency. The University has developed a list of immigration lawyers willing to consider pro bono cases to supplement these services, also available through an HIRC advisor.
Recognizing the anxiety and disruption brought by months of uncertainty, HUHS’s Counseling and Mental Health Services will be continuing a weekly support group started last semester in addition to offering individual counseling services.
All of these services and related contact information can be found on the University-wide Undocumented at Harvard website we have developed to provide a central resource to students and administrators seeking information or guidance.
As I have outlined in previous communications to the Harvard community, the University will maintain its existing financial aid policies, which provide funding to students without reference to immigration status, and the Harvard University Police Department—which is not involved in the enforcement of federal immigration laws—will maintain its practice of not inquiring about the immigration status of students, staff, or faculty.
Harvard has long advocated in Washington, DC, for these vulnerable students, and we will continue to work tirelessly at the federal level to advance our arguments. In a letter last week to President Trump, I pressed him to preserve the DACA protections, and today I have written to leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives to urge that Congress resolve this issue legislatively, whether through the DREAM Act or the BRIDGE Act, which are designed to preserve DACA status for eligible young people and would allow them to continue academic pursuits, service in the military, or work after graduation while giving Congress time to enact a long-term solution. Both of these bills have drawn bipartisan support.
These young people, like their peers, aspire to be leaders and innovators in public service, law, science, medicine, and the arts, as well as in business, education, and other industries. Through dedication and hard work, they have earned a place to study, learn, and grow at Harvard. As a university community dedicated to inclusion and to the promise of creative minds, and as a nation founded on the ideals of equality and opportunity, it is our responsibility to defend their ability to develop and share their talents in their home communities, in our country, and with the world.