A message from President Whitfield to students on 7/19/21

Dear students, 

As many of you are aware, the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was in the news over the weekend following a ruling by a Federal District judge in Texas late Friday afternoon. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security violated federal law with the establishment and continued administration of DACA. The Biden administration on Saturday vowed to appeal the ruling. 

The judge’s ruling is deeply disappointing and demonstrates the need for Congress to pass legislation that supports the DACA program. The future of DACA should not continue to be debated back and forth in the courts with the future of so many hanging in the balance. Each ruling generates a new round of fear, confusion, and uncertainty. Everyone involved deserves better, and the on-again, off-again policy benefits no one. 

Though Judge Hanen’s decision does not impact those who have current DACA status or those who have applied to renew, the decision does block the review of any first-time applications for DACA. Students with DACA status who need to renew are urged to do so without delay as the court has the ability to issue new, follow-up orders at any time. 

UNLV has been clear on this issue in the past and our position remains unchanged. We firmly believe every student – including undocumented and DACA students – should be able to pursue their goals and seek opportunities to improve their lives through higher education without fearing for their safety or future. DACA and undocumented students are valued members of our university and our community, and we will continue to support them and advocate for them. 

The university offers two core resources for those in need. First, the UNLV Immigration Clinic’s University Legal Services program offers free immigration legal services, including DACA assistance, to UNLV and College of Southern Nevada students, staff, and their families. 

Secondly, Resource Coordinator Mariana Sarmiento in the UNLV Office of Diversity Initiatives can also provide assistance for undocumented students and DACA recipients by coordinating campus and community resources such as legal assistance, basic needs, mental health support, and more. Ms. Sarmiento can be contacted at mariana.sarmiento@unlv.edu 

We will continue to follow this issue closely and share information with our campus community.
Warm regards,
Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.

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