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Matt Salmon represents undocumented students, despite previous anti-DACA votes

As ASU VP for Government Affairs, former Rep. Matt Salmon is the lead advocate for University DACA students


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students walk through the Tempe campus on April 7, 2015. The walk encouraged other students to demonstrate their support.

On June 3, 2016 ASU announced that former Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon would become vice president of government affairs. After serving in the House of Representatives for a total of five terms with the Republican Party, Salmon was returning to his alma mater. 

Now, with the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Salmon’s position makes him the foremost proponent for undocumented students at ASU. 

This worries many students, because Salmon voted in favor of an amendment to a 2015 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that sought to defund DACA.

Edder Diaz Martinez, a journalism senior and DACA recipient, is one of those students. 

Martinez said he was stunned when he first heard that Salmon would be the vice president of government affairs.

“This is a guy who voted against comprehensive immigration reform," Martinez said. “For him to be the liaison between the government and ASU, it’s a little crazy.” 

Martinez advocates for DACA students such as himself as the outreach and retention director of Undocumented Students for Education Equity. He said he feels USEE should be a part of the conversation to reform immigration and protect undocumented students because “we’re students ourselves, we’re going through this, and we know what we need more than anybody else.”

“We’ll be working very hard with our congressional delegation to get them to support codifying and protecting these DACA students through federal law," he said. 

But Salmon said he's not against undocumented students, just that he believes immigration reform should be done differently. 

“The right way isn’t through executive order … Congress has the responsibility to regulate naturalization," Salmon said. "I feel very strongly that the DACA kids should be made permanent, and that it should be done through Congress, that’s how I’ve always felt.” 

Regardless of Salmon’s intentions, Martinez said he believes Salmon and ASU are not going about advocating for undocumented students the right way.

“They are addressing the issues we are facing every day without getting our input," Martinez said. “Having closed-door meetings and assuming that (Salmon) knows what it is (students) need … it’s probably not the right way to go."

Another DACA recipient, former Undergraduate Student Government Downtown Senator Oscar Hernandez, said he believes Salmon's appointment is insulting. 

“I think it’s crazy, and honestly offensive, that they would decide to not make us a part of that conversation," Hernandez, a public service and public policy senior, said.

Nonetheless, Salmon said that the University values every student, and that it's in the University's interest to ensure that the DACA students' futures are not subject to the whim of “whoever is in the White House.”

“Our team is going to be doing everything humanly possible to make sure that the Congress makes this permanent and it’s not something they have to worry about in the future," Salmon said.

Eligible DACA recipients can renew their status until Oct. 5. The program expires on March 5 of 2018, giving Congress around six months to provide a pathway to citizenship for nearly 800,000 DACA recipients.

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