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“What About DACA”

September 29, 2017

Wednesday night, students and faculty alike crowded into the Morgan Room in Poling Hall to, if just for a moment, find some clarity in the midst of one of the most controversial political decisions of President Donald Trump’s administration. Though wherever the President goes, controversy seems to follow, the rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals struck a particular nerve among students, faculty, and people across the nation. In the aftermath of a decision largely framed by partisan spin, the Constitution Day event hoped to contextualize the decision, explain what DACA really was, and discuss what happens next. Led by Professors Jessica Vivian and Andre Audette, the event began with a general overview of the Constitutional implications of DACA. Professor Vivian outlined protections afforded recipients of DACA, and what the precedent previously set by Supreme Court implied for their future. While obviously a touchy subject, considering that topics like DACA directly impact people’s lives, Vivian remained sensitive, yet thorough. While pointing out that previous rulings on the use of information gathered by government imply that the Supreme Court would likely not rule in favor of Donald Trump utilizing DACA databases to round up and deport undocumented childhood arrivals, Vivian also noted that precedent may change.

After that, Professor Audette came in to discuss the practical and legislative implications of DACA’s elimination, away from the Supreme Court and the Constitution. Instead, Audette discussed Trump’s seemingly sympathetic perspective on DACA, a development that, as Audette noted, runs counter to Trump’s typical rhetoric on immigration. After joking about Twitter’s newfound relevance to world news with the audience, Audette pointed the room towards Trump’s recent statements on DACA recipients, noting that Trump seems to be somewhat supportive.

However, the meat of Audette’s presentation came in his description of bills proposed in the Senate as replacements for DACA. In his description of three incredibly complicated bills, Audette boiled the potential for a replacement down to the absolute necessities to know about the DREAM Act, BRIDGE Act, and SUCCEED Act. In each instance, the audience also got a look into what makes a replacement possible, or impossible based on the current political environment. For those looking to get a crash course on “What’s Next” after DACA, Audette certainly delivered.

Though brief, as there simply isn’t enough time ton go in depth about every bill on the Senate floor and their Constitutional implications, Audette and Vivian manage to synthesize a complex, ever-changing issue into a discussion with the audience not just about DACA, but about the larger immigration debate as a whole. At the very least, senior political science, international studies, and Spanish major Diana Rubi seems to think so, saying that “the presentation broke down the information well enough to understand the topic to a more political level.” For sure, this was a Constitution Day event that will not soon be forgotten.

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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