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Oregon's Education Community Reacts To DACA Announcement

<p>Portland State University and the University of Oregon had tuition increases rejected by the state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission.</p>

Alan Sylvestre


Portland State University and the University of Oregon had tuition increases rejected by the state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

The Trump administration's announcement that it is phasing out the DACA program drew swift condemnation from higher education officials in Oregon Tuesday.

"In a world full of ambiguities, there is no ambiguity for me about the importance of continuing DACA," wrote University of Oregon President Michael Schill in a message to the school. "My view of morality dictates that young people, many of whom were brought here as infants or toddlers, must be allowed to remain in the United States to learn, work, and make a life for themselves. The United States is their home. To uproot them would be wrong. Period."

Schill wrote that the university is reaching out directly to students who may be affected by the DACA decision. And he said the school "will not facilitate immigration enforcement on our campus without legal compulsion."

Oregon State University President Ed Ray also promised support for students with DACA status and said the Trump Administration announcement would have no immediate impact on how the school treats those students. "OSU will continue to enroll and look for ways to assist DACA students, as well as undocumented students," wrote Ray in a message to the university community.

Ray also expressed hope that Congress would take up the matter. "We strongly support bi-partisan efforts by members of Congress to find a solution that will ensure that these young people are able to remain in the U.S. and contribute to society by attending college, working and paying taxes, improving their communities, and serving in the military.

Portland State University President Rahmat Shoureshi sought to reassure PSU students of their safety. He called the school a "sanctuary" and said, "the Campus Public Safety Office does not enforce federal immigration laws, we will not consent to immigration enforcement activities on campus and we protect confidential student information, such as immigration status, as required by law."

But Shoureshi acknowledged that the school's support for students with DACA status couldn't extend beyond the campus boundaries, saying the President's decision would have "serious consequences" for students there. "Ending the DACA program would upend their lives and the lives of their families," he said.

Portland Community College President Mark Mitsui said DACA has been a crucial option for PCC students and even some staff. "It's meant the ability to go to school, earn a degree or credential, support their families, and be engaged, committed members of our community," said Mitsui. Clackamas Community College Board Chair Jane Reid said DACA students, quote, "should not be used as political pawns.” And Western Oregon University President Rex Fuller said "WOU has always nurtured a caring, inclusive community, and as we confront this latest decision, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles of diversity, inclusion and community." Fuller said "scores" of DACA students attend the Monmouth school, including some who have ascended to leadership roles while on campus. 


Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.