Higher Education Coalition from Kentucky Urges Congress to Protect 'Dreamers'

Sep 30, 2019

Some Kentucky colleges and universities are among 600 higher education institutions across the nation asking Congress to give permanent protection to children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was enacted by the Obama administration to prevent those known as “Dreamers” from being deported. 

President Trump in 2017 announced plans to rescind the program, but delayed taking any action.

Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College in Bowling Green recently signed a letter to congressional leaders urging them to give DACA recipients a permanent path to citizenship. 

SKYCTC President Phillip Neal told WKU Public Radio that he sees it as a workforce issue.

“Just this month alone, September 2019, through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we have seven-plus million job openings with only about six million unemployed folks," explained Neal. "Thinking about taking a population as large as the DACA group, taking them out of our companies, will cause tremendous damage to our workforce.”

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether President Trump has authority to end the program after several court decisions halted the suspension.

Regardless of the high court’s decision, many education groups say legislative action will still be necessary and are urging House and Senate leaders to give permanent status to Dreamers.  Some higher education leaders believe Congress shouldn't wait for the upcoming Supreme Court hearing and decision on DACA to take action to protect Dreamers.

The letter to congressional leaders was sent by the American Council on Education.  According to the ACE, 72 percent of DACA recipients are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher while in the U.S.  The president of SKYCTC says deporting those young adults would create a vacuum in the workforce.