Harvard Files to Support DACA Lawsuit

Faculty Meeting at University Hall
University President Drew G. Faust's Chief of Staff Lars P.K. Madsen, pictured here in 2016, penned a declaration in opposition to the cancellation of DACA.

University President Drew G. Faust’s Chief of Staff Lars P. K. Madsen submitted evidence earlier this month supporting a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program protecting undocumented youth.

Attorneys General from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in a New York district court on Sept. 6, arguing that the Trump administration’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was unconstitutional and would harm their respective states. DACA, put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2012, provides work authorizations and temporary protected status to qualifying undocumented youth. Trump announced Sept. 5 that he would end the program after a six-month delay.

The lawsuit cites Madsen’s four-page declaration to make the case that ending DACA will hurt Massachusetts, one of the states that brought the suit.

“Rescinding DACA will harm the ability of Massachusetts colleges and universities,
including public universities, to satisfy their educational missions and prepare Massachusetts residents for the workforce,” it argues. “The nation’s leading private universities—many of which are located in Massachusetts will suffer similar harms if DACA is rescinded.”

More than 50 Harvard students are DACA recipients, according to Madsen’s declaration. DACA allows students to work on campus and between terms, travel outside of the United States, and frees them from fear of deportation, Madsen wrote.

“In the absence of a legislative response, discontinuance of DACA will withdraw important work and travel opportunities from DACA students and reintroduce fear and uncertainty into their lives, with real follow-on effects for their education,” he wrote. “In keeping with its central mission — to teach, to advance and promote learning: ‘all good literature, arts and sciences’ for the benefit of all — Harvard therefore stands against the elimination of the DACA program.”

The suit calls on the court to invalidate parts of the Department of Homeland Security memo ending DACA and asks the court to prohibit the federal government from sharing DACA recipients’ information with immigration enforcement authorities.

This is not the first time Harvard has backed legal action against Trump policies. The University and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic submitted several amicus briefs against Trump’s travel ban earlier this year, similarly arguing that those restrictions imperiled the University’s educational mission.

“We’ve just been looking for the ways we can engage with the legal actions undertaken to push back against these measures,” Faust said in an interview Wednesday.

Faust, a vocal DACA supporter, swiftly denounced Trump’s decision to end the program after his announcement and called for a legislative solution. Faust has lobbied Congress to pass laws protecting undocumented youth for years. S, and since Trump’s election, she has sent two letters imploring him to preserve the DACA program. The University has also hired a fellow for undocumented students, brought lawyers to campus to provide legal counsel, and circulated memos providing guidance to students.

Under the Department of Homeland Security guidelines, current DACA recipients whose documents expire on or before March 5 can apply for renewal before Oct. 5.

—Staff writer Claire E. Parker can be reached at claire.parker@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.

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