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ASU joins list of higher education institutions in defense of DACA

The University joins a list of 165 higher education institutions in favor of keeping DACA in place for students


Protesters carry a sign in support of DACA students at a march on ASU's Tempe campus on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

ASU has joined the growing list of universities and colleges calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place.

ASU added their name to the list of 165 signatories in an amicus brief that was filed on Oct. 4 and serves to support a lawsuit filed in 2017 by the Regents of the University of California against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

The universities in the brief cite DACA's impact on undocumented students as a reason to keep the program. 

"DACA has enabled previously undocumented students to pursue higher education in several important ways that benefit the amici institutions through heightened interest in enrollment,  financial support, improved diversity and myriad contributions to campus life," attorney Bruce Spiva wrote on behalf of the universities. 

The lawsuit was filed days after President Donald Trump's order to rescind DACA in 2017. 

The brief provides examples of successful students from the universities currently using DACA. The brief specifically cited an ASU alumna, Reyna Montoya. 

Montoya was born in Tijuana, Mexico and migrated to Arizona in 2003 to escape violence in Mexico, according to the brief. She holds bachelor's degrees in political science and transborder studies ASU, where she also minored in dance, the brief says. 

After leaving ASU, she went on to get a master's from GCU, and has been involved with various advocacy groups that fight for DACA, the brief says. 

Montoya founded Aliento, an organization based in Phoenix that helps the community of undocumented immigrants in the area through art therapy and education workshops.

José Patiño, advocacy and policy director at Aliento, is an ASU alumnus and DACA recipient just like Montoya. He said it is a "feeling of pride" to see ASU leading the way on DACA.

"With DACA I was able to become a high school math teacher, I was able to become a homeowner through a loan I received through DACA, and I was able to get a job," Patiño said. "Going from being undocumented, DACA has changed my outlook on life."

DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012 and was designed to allow immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during their childhood a two-year renewable period where they are eligible for work permits and will receive deferred action towards deportation.  

Trump made the decision to rescind the program in 2017. Since then, the program has been the subject of numerous court cases, with many states and institutions challenging Trump's attempts to get rid of the program. 

In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the California lawsuit in connection with two other DACA termination cases, allowing three cases to progress from district courts to the Supreme Court this November

The lawsuit states "the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim. The University faces the loss of vital members of its community, students and employees."

READ MORE: The real cost of DACA: ASU DACA students face financial, emotional costs

Other colleges in Arizona joined in support alongside ASU, including Benedictine University in Mesa and the Maricopa County Community College and Pima County Community College districts.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office did not respond to a request for a comment, but Brnovich has said in the past he does not support the DACA program. 

Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court will be on Nov. 12.

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