November 22, 2016

Supporting Our Undocumented Students

President Alison Byerly sent the following message to the college community Nov. 22.

I am following up on my note sent to you last week (“Our Values as a Community”) to share with you the College’s commitment to particularly vulnerable members of our community — students with status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and other undocumented students.

The DACA program provides temporary protection from deportation for young people who entered the United States illegally as children. Students at Lafayette, and across the nation, have expressed fears that possible changes to this program or American immigration laws may affect their ability to complete their education.

At Lafayette, we admit and enroll qualified students without regard to their residency status. Financial aid awarded to undocumented students or those with DACA status is funded exclusively by the College. In a 2015 notice to higher education leaders, the federal government encouraged colleges and universities to “serve and support undocumented youth, including DACA recipients” because “[e]ducation is a critical pathway to success for young people, including those who are immigrants and undocumented….”

I am among a number of college presidents who recently signed a statement in support of the DACA program and undocumented immigrant students. This statement recommends to the federal government that, in view of its success since being instituted in 2012, “DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded.”

We are proud that Lafayette can serve as a valuable pathway to a successful future for undocumented students.  We will continue to consider information that we have about a student’s residency status to be confidential, and we will do everything we can within the limits of the law to support our undocumented students and help them to fulfill their educational aspirations.

We have much to be thankful for, and the strength of our community is among Lafayette’s most precious assets.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

President Alison Byerly