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Edgewood College Backs Dreamer Students


The period of status renewal for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has come to a close as of Oct. 5.

Edgewood helped students protected under DACA, or DACA Dreamers, through the process of reapplying by offering financial support and several other resources. Scott Flanagan, president of the college, and Tony Garcia, director of diversity and inclusion, have been in talks since early spring semester to anticipate the news surrounding DACA.

“I’ve been reaching out to our legislatures, to (U.S. Rep.)Mark Pocan’s office, to our senators, and this is work I started in January,” said  Flanagan. Garcia said he has been working with Flanagan, knowing that Trump would announce a change in early September. “On that Tuesday when Jeff Sessions had his press conference, immediately afterward I was connecting with Scott to talk about the next steps to make sure we are providing the right resources and setting the right tone.,” Garcia said.

On September 5, Trump had Sessions, the U.S. attorney general, announced that DACA was going to be rescinded.

Donna Vukelich-Selva, an associate professor in the School of Education, said that Trump started his election campaign with an anti-immigrant agenda. “He promised very early on that he would get rid of DACA the next day,” says Vukelich-Selva. “So the day after the election, people felt very terrified and shattered thinking that they only had a couple more months.”

In the month between the announcement and the application deadline, Dreamers were expected to apply for renewal and pay $495. “Just think of students and how strapped they are at the beginning of the year with tuition and books, and then you have to worry about this as well,” said Vukelich-Selva.

Garcia says that Edgewood College opened up the Dreamers Scholarship, which was created last fall, to give students who need to apply for their DACA renewal the opportunity to have that application funded.

Edgewood also worked with the Community Immigration Law Clinic in Madison to provide students free legal aid. “One of the attorneys there partnered with Edgewood to ensure that any student who needed to complete their DACA renewal had an attorney who specializes in immigration free of charge,” says Garcia.

On Thursday, September 14, a staff attorney at the Community Immigration Law Clinic held  a closed-door session at Edgewood to meet with any DACA or undocumented students. “The attorney was here to give information from the legality aspect of what students need to know and what their rights are,”  said Garcia.

Gerardo Mancilla, director of Education Administration and Leadership in the School of Education, said that the DACA program provided a pathway for many students to be able to continue being contributing members of society. He said that after Trump set a deadline for reapplying, people had to figure out whether or not their renewal date was before or after Oct. 5. “Overall, there’s been over 800,000 students who applied for DACA, and out of those only a third would be eligible to renew their DACA permits,” says Mancilla.

Vukelich-Selva said that she has been working on issues of immigration and documentation for over 10 years. “Immigration is at a crisis point, but the crisis has been building for years,” says Vukelich-Selva.

For more information on DACA and all of the resources available, check out Edgewood’s website, http://diversity.edgewood.edu/Undocumented-DACA.

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