DES MOINES, Iowa — Simpson College President Jay Simmons announced Thursday in an email to the student body that he has signed a petition to support students who are registered with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or people who entered the United States illegally.
The signatories demand that national leaders continue the DACA program, which they say brings social and economic benefits to communities across the country.
The move comes after members of the community expressed heightened concern about potential changes to the country’s immigration policies after President-elect Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
“Simpson College welcomes students regardless of their citizenship status,” Simmons said. “As a United Methodist-related college with a mission that values social justice and global citizenship, we remain committed to fostering an inclusive campus community.”
Simmons clarified that the college will not track students’ documentation status and will not release institutional records or information about students without permission, unless responding to a duly issued subpoena, court order or warrant under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
“Recognizing the changeable nature of the existing immigration regulations, we strongly encourage students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents to consider whether they should leave the country,” Simmons said. “At this time, none of us know what actions the new administration will take regarding continuation of the DACA program or other immigration-related issues.”
Students who are interested in learning more information about immigration policies and individual rights can contact the National Immigration Law Center.
The petition has nearly 600 signatures as of Thursday night.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT:
“The core mission of higher education is the advancement of knowledge, people, and society. As educational leaders, we are committed to upholding free inquiry and education in our colleges and universities, and to providing the opportunity for all our students to pursue their learning and life goals.
“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community. With DACA, our students and alumni have been able to pursue opportunities in business, education, high tech, and the non-profit sector; they have gone to medical school, law school, and graduate schools in numerous disciplines. They are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.
“To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.
“We call on our colleagues and other leaders across the business, civic, religious, and non-profit sectors to join with us in this urgent matter.”