Dartmouth signs Oct. 19 letter to Congress on DACA

by Peter Charalambous | 10/23/17 3:14pm

UPDATED: Oct. 23, 2017 at 5:45 p.m.

The American Council on Education sent a letter to top leaders in Congress on Oct. 19 urging them to protect those affected by the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The letter was initially signed by nearly 800 colleges and universities, and Dartmouth signed on to the letter on Oct. 23.

“As far as I know, we, ACE, became aware that Dartmouth wanted to sign on today, but for all I know [the College] may have tried to sign on earlier and just for whatever reasons — a glitch in the system, I have no idea — it didn’t get to us,” said Jonathan Riskind, ACE assistant vice president of public affairs, though he could not confirm the specific reason why Dartmouth signed on today rather than on the Oct. 19 publication date.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement that the signatures are acquired through "an automated form, and [the College] thought we had already submitted it." She noted that College President Phil Hanlon sent President Donald Trump a letter on Sept. 1 asking him to continue DACA and joined several statements with college and university presidents in support of DACA, including a Nov. 21, 2016 letter co-signed by more than 600 other university presidents.

"It is important to take every opportunity to defend and advocate for DACA," Lawrence wrote.

ACE solicits signatures through a "long and complicated" process, though Riskind could not specify the timeline for this specific letter. He added that it is "not uncommon" for ACE to add schools to the letter after the publication date and that ACE has added about "two dozen" additional signatures in the two business days since the original publication.

“Any school that wants to be on the letter, I don’t think you can question their commitment to Dreamers or the issue,” Riskind said.

The letter came as a response to Trump's announced repeal of DACA policy on Sept. 5. Addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the letter asked that long-term legislation be passed to protect Dreamers.

"Colleges and universities have seen these remarkable people up close, in our classrooms and as our colleagues and friends," the letter stated. "Despite the challenges they face, they have made incredible contributions to our country and its economy and security. They should continue to be able to do so. If we are unable to protect these Dreamers, we will be shutting the door to an entire generation of individuals who seek to contribute their best to America."

ACE, which consists of over 1,600 U.S. member institutions, coordinated the effort on behalf of the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition, which is made up of a variety of higher education associations. The letter echoed one sent by more than 800 business and industry leaders to Congress on Sept. 20 that encouraged a permanent solution to protect Dreamers.

On March 16, ACE sent a letter to Trump asking him to continue DACA. The letter was co-signed by Dartmouth, along with about 560 other universities, including all of the Ivy League institutions.

Correction Appended (October 23, 2017): The original version of this article misinterpreted Lawrence's statement on the College's actions regarding DACA. The article has been updated to correct the error.