New bill for undocumented students introduced

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The Association of Public Land-Grant Universities released a statement in support ofa new bill this month that would continue work permits and legal rights to undocumented students who came to the U.S. as children. 

A statement announcing the bill was released on Jan. 12 by the president of APLU, Peter McPherson, in which he thanked the senators who came together to make the bill, known as the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, possible. 

“This bipartisan, bicameral bill would extend fairness to young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children by offering them a ‘provisional protected status’ from deportation and work authorization,” McPherson said in the statement.

The bill, also called the BRIDGE Act, was introduced this past December because of the undetermined fate of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which President Donald Trump has said he will repeale. 

“Because of the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many undocumented university students are left in an untenable situation through no fault of their own,” McPherson said in the statement. 

According to Politico, the act would be extended to at least 740,000 immigrants who have been able to stay in the U.S. under DACA. 

“Regardless of one’s view of the executive action at the time it was issued, the United States should be fair to these young people,” McPherson said in the statement. “This is the right thing to do.”

The University is a member of APLU. Karen Adler, a UT System employee, said the University supports the new bill but also hopes DACA would stay. 

“Chancellor McRaven supports the BRIDGE Act and strongly believes in the benefits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and also believes the program should be upheld and continued,” Adler said in an email. 

Sam Cervantes, government and communication studies sophomore, is a part of the DACA program at the University, and said the BRIDGE Act would allow undocumented students to live their life without any concern. 

“It’s comforting knowing that there have been bills proposed at the congressional level that will give DREAMers the ability to continue to work, that will give DREAMers the ability to feel comfortable driving without having a fear of being deported,” said Cervantes, who came to the U.S. at the age of five. 

Cervantes, who is a part of the outreach team with the University Leadership Initiative, said the possible repeal of DACA makes him feel unsure about the future, but he knows he and the rest of the community will get through it. 

“I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t scared,” Cervantes said. “There is a form of uneasiness that I feel for now, but the undocumented community has been fighting the battle for years, even before DACA. I’m very proud of knowing that there’s a community of undocumented students and the support of our allies who are willing to be advocates that are not going to be silent during the presidency, and that’s what gives me comfort. We are going to be persistent, we are going to be pushing our legislators from local, state and at the federal level.”

Correction: The original story said The Association of Public Land-Grant Universities introduced a new bill this month. It should read that the APLU released a statement in support of a new bill this month. The Texan regrets this error.