The Supreme Court began its 2019-2020 term last month and one of the first cases on the docket directly affects some students at Chapman University. The heavily contested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (D.A.C.A.) was presented to the Court Nov. 11 with opening statements from both sides of the aisle. As of now the Justices seem split, but their upcoming decision will determine the futures of roughly 700,000 immigrants in the U.S.
Chapman does not track the number of D.A.C.A. recipients on campus, so there’s no way of citing an exact number. It is too early to know if Chapman will need to respond to this case, but President Daniele Struppa is aware of the potential pressure.
“To my brothers and sisters, to whom I am connected by the bonds of humanity, I express my solidarity for the situation they are facing. There is no doubt, in my mind, that the dreamers are a very special group. They are here through no fault of their own and most importantly they have not willingly violated our laws,” Struppa wrote in an email to The Panther.
The Obama-era program prevents the deportation of young people illegally brought into the country before they turned 16. Because D.A.C.A. protects immigrants who often have no memories of their home countries or undocumented arrivals, support for the bill has come from both Democrats and Republicans.
The Trump administration moved to end the program in September 2017, declaring the protection unconstitutional. The administration has since defended this decision, believing it sends a message to future immigrants that they should not bring their children here illegally.
It is difficult to speculate what will happen if the Court repeals the program. Orange is not a sanctuary city and Chapman is not a sanctuary university.
“The university (and I personally) are concerned both as teachers, and as fellow human beings. It is hard to speculate on what the impact could be, but while deportation is a possibility, it is even more likely that students could lose their work authorization and this could interfere with their educational goals at Chapman and beyond,” Struppa said.
With the current nine Justices, the Supreme Court leans conservatively. The hearings last week left the group split between protecting and repealing D.A.C.A. When the decision is released in 2020, the ruling could go either way. Until then, Chapman dreamers will remain in legal limbo.