On college campuses across the United States, thousands of students are afraid they may be forced to leave the country they call home.
These students are among the 700,000 undocumented young people born outside the United States and granted a reprieve from deportation under a policy the Trump administration is illegally trying to end.
For more than seven years, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allowed these young people to obtain a driver’s license, work and pay taxes, own a business and serve in the military. They came forward and played by the rules, but now the administration is trying to pull the plug on this federal policy and subsequently derail their lives.
As the president of the University of California and the chair of the UC Board of Regents, respectively, we have heard firsthand the serious concerns of many students and their families. With DACA protection, they have been able to succeed in careers after graduation. DACA recipients contribute to the country’s economy in significant ways, and losing these students from the workforce would cost the U.S. gross domestic product a staggering $460 billion over a decade, according to Center for American Progress reports.
DACA has been found lawful
Because of the profound negative impact of rescinding this policy on our students, our communities and America at large, we are proud to have been the first university to file a legal challenge against the Trump administration. The Supreme Court is hearing our case Tuesday.
Our position is simple: No administration can end a policy like DACA without a valid justification, and yet the only justification offered thus far is that the original policy was somehow unlawful. Fortunately, no one is buying this argument. In fact, the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded that DACA is lawful.
In addition, the Supreme Court has heard from more than 1,000 voices supporting the university in this critical challenge, including heads of major corporations like Apple and Microsoft, national security experts, medical professionals, religious groups, states and municipalities, DACA recipients, colleges and universities.
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As they make clear in their amicus briefs, America benefits from the contributions of DACA recipients, and the policy fits squarely into our nation’s history of protecting the most vulnerable.
America's legacy of refuge
Until now, every administration over the past 60 years has adopted similar humanitarian policies. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower protected tens of thousands of Hungarian refugees from deportation after they fled Soviet Union rule; Presidents Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon protected more than 600,000 Cuban immigrants escaping an oppressive regime; and President Bill Clinton established a deferred action program for those petitioning for relief under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Today, however, we have an administration whose hostility toward immigrants runs contrary to the law and against our American values. The Trump administration appears to be exploiting these young people as pawns in a legislative gambit to impose harsher immigration policies across the board.
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Regardless of the administration’s motive, uprooting the lives of those who have sewn themselves into the fabric of our communities is bad policy, bad economics and bad politics. Perhaps that is why a vast majority of Americans — Democrats and Republicans alike — support DACA recipients.
As we await the Supreme Court’s ruling, the University of California will continue to provide a safe and supportive environment for all those who want to advance their education and pursue their dreams.
Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, is the former Department of Homeland Security secretary who signed the directive that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. John A. Pérez is chair of the University of California Board of Regents and speaker emeritus of the California State Assembly. Follow John on Twitter: @JohnAPerez
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: We sued Trump administration to protect DACA youth: Napolitano & Pérez