Colleges fight for undocumented students


By: Grace White

HOUSTON – It was a cornerstone of his campaign. President-elect Donald Trump promised to deport undocumented immigrants.

However, colleges across the country are fighting back, saying students who got deferred action under President Obama should be allowed to stay.

It took a grassroots effort by the Houston chapter of United We Dream to get thousands of undocumented students like Karla De Jesus a chance at a more permanent life in the United States.

“When DACA came through, that’s when I started to work,” De Jesus said. “I also acquired a license. I learned how to drive.”

She came to the U.S. when she was 4 years old. In 2012, when President Obama granted deferred action, the threat of being deported went away, and she could finally go to college. Her dream is to be a medical interpreter.

“I really enjoy helping people in the community in that way,” De Jesus said.

“Our message to the students is we support them, and we’re thrilled to have them as part of our community,” said David Leebron, President of Rice University and Chair of The Association of American Universities Board of Directors.

Leebron added his name to a growing list of more than 300 college presidents who want deferred action to stay. It’s a message he’s hoping will reach all the way to Washington come January when President-Elect Trump takes office.

However, already here at home for students like De Jesus, it’s encouragement not to give up on a education she’s already started.

“I feel very supportive as an undocumented student knowing there’s an education system to an extent is willing to support and make sure we feel safe,” De Jesus said.

So far, around 844,931 people have gotten deferred action status since 2012. Here in Texas, we’ve had the second-highest number of applicants behind California. The status lasts for two years, but all of it could be wiped out with a new president in January.

(© 2016 KHOU)





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