Baylor responds to DACA developments; clinic to reopen

The Baylor Law Immigration Clinic will resume assisting with DACA renewals in February. Lariat File Photo

By Corrie Coleman | Reporter

The past week has been eventful for DACA negotiations. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was brought to a halt in September by President Donald Trump. However on Tuesday, Judge William Alsup ordered the Trump administration to resume the program. Alsup said that Trump’s decision to halt DACA was improper and the program must resume accepting applications for renewals. This was seen by many immigration advocates as a significant step in the right direction.

After DACA was halted in September, the clinic came to an end. As a result of this week’s developments however, the Baylor Law Immigration Clinic will resume assisting with renewals in February.

DACA was established in 2012 by the Obama administration and sought to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The program allowed for these children to lawfully work and pay taxes without fear of deportation.

In 2012, Laura Hernández, professor of law, helped found the DACA Immigration Clinic through the Baylor Law School. At the clinic, law student volunteers help clients complete the required paperwork to apply for status renewal.

“[Clients] left with a completed application and all they had to do was put it in the mail,” Hernández said.

“It’s helpful when you can get lawyers to do [the paperwork] because there are some questions that are trickier than you think,” Hernández said. “If you misinterpret what the question is asking, you can actually get yourself into trouble.”

Only hours after DACA was resumed on Tuesday, Trump allegedly used vulgar language to describe Haiti and some African countries, causing outrage from both Republicans and Democrats. The president has since denied these remarks but negotiations for the future of DACA have become unstable.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding immigration law, Baylor’s policies regarding students under DACA remain unchanged.

Dr. Liz Palacios, Dean for Student Development, said that although Baylor will comply with the law, the University’s students come first.

“We just want to make sure our students are not operating out of fear,” Palacios said.

“We have these kids who are in our undergraduate colleges, who are being trained as lawyers, who are being trained as doctors, who now can’t practice those occupations,” Hernández said. “If they are discovered, [they] will be deported back to their home country just at the time that they are the best situated to give back to our country.”

Palacios urges all students to continue participating in conversations about immigration law.

“It’s going to be important that all of us … whether you’re DACA or not, understand what’s going on in our political realm … We know that … many of our DACA students are already contributing to our society. They’re part of the fabric of our society,” Palacios said. “Whatever the outcome, we need to be aware and to be involved and we need to use our voice.”

She reminds students under DACA that counseling is available to them as they deal with anxiety or any of the emotions that may be affecting their well-being.

“Emotionally, spiritually and physically, we want to make certain that our students are in a good place with supportive resources,” Palacios said.