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Harvard Submits Amicus Brief in Defense of DACA Recipients

Massachusetts Hall houses University President Lawrence S. Bacow's office.
Massachusetts Hall houses University President Lawrence S. Bacow's office. By Megan M. Ross
By Alexandra A. Chaidez and Aidan F. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard and 18 other colleges and universities jointly filed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit over the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Obama-era program.

The University of California originally filed the suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2017, arguing that ending DACA — a program that allows undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children to live and work in the U.S. — violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment. The Court is scheduled to hear arguments Nov. 12.

The amicus brief warns that if DACA is dismissed, “remarkable students” enrolled at the institutions would not obtain the “full benefit” of their education. The schools also wrote that the end of DACA would hurt recruitment and retention of talented international students.

“Indeed, ending DACA would force future scholars, innovators, and leaders to choose between withdrawing to the margins of our society and national economy or returning to countries that they have never called home,” the brief reads. “Whatever they choose, their gifts and education will be lost to this nation.”

Other schools joining Harvard in the brief include Yale, MIT, and Brown. The brief states each school has admitted DACA recipients.

Harvard has long lobbied for federal protections for its undocumented students and staff.

In July, University President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote a letter to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan to convey his “deep concern” about uncertain immigration policies enacted by the Trump administration.

Later that summer, Bacow also worked to bring Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23, a Palestinian resident of Lebanon who was denied entry into the U.S. by Custom and Border Protection agents in August, to campus to begin his freshman year.

Thursday’s brief quoted from a letter former University President Drew G. Faust wrote in August 2017 to President Donald Trump urging him to preserve DACA. The brief also noted that depriving DACA recipients of access to higher education would strip their hometowns of the resources they can provide after graduation.

“The DACA students at amici institutions—and the many thousands more enrolled at other colleges and universities—are by definition the product of this nation’s education system and the communities that support it,” the institutions wrote. “Through the opportunities provided by American institutions of higher education all over this country, including amici’s, these young people now have the skills to give back—in ways big and small—to the country that raised them.”

The brief includes information about Jin K. Park ’18-’19, a recent Harvard graduate and the first DACA beneficiary to become a Rhodes Scholar in United States history. Park — who was born in South Korea and moved to New York at age 7 — has lobbied for DACA protections since his graduation, testifying before Congress in March about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant.

Two other Harvard affiliates — Harvard Medical School graduate Dalia G. Larios and current Medical School student Blanca E. Morales — were also mentioned in the brief. The brief states Larios, now a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was the first DACA recipient accepted to the Medical School.

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.

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