July 3, 2019

PU Responds to SCOTUS; Local Action Planned To Support Immigrants

By Donald Gilpin

As concern grows over the immigration crisis at the border and throughout the country, Princeton University and Microsoft have issued statements in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 decision to review cases regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Meanwhile, Princeton Human Services, in collaboration with the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) and the Princeton Public Library, last night held a Know Your Rights workshop “in preparation for the expected ICE raids in the upcoming weeks.” The workshop on immigrant rights was planned to provide information for what to do if one has an encounter with ICE. Lawyers were to be present to answer questions and notaries on hand to complete temporary power of attorneys for child guardianship.

In further support of the immigrant community, a coalition of area organizations has planned a Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps rally for Friday, July 12, from 7-9 p.m. in Hinds Plaza.

Sponsored by Princeton Marching Forward, Indivisible Princeton, Indivisible Cranbury, Princeton Progressive Action Group, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Stand Central NJ, and Lawrence Citizen Activists, the event is part of a nationwide protest and vigil “to spotlight the inhumane treatment of immigrant families by the current administration.”


The Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear arguments on DACA during its next term, which starts in October, threw the fate of the program into limbo again and prompted both Princeton University and Microsoft to urge Congress to take legislative action to protect the Dreamers before the Supreme Court rules on DACA.

The Justice Department announced in 2017 that it was ending the program, but subsequently several district courts and courts of appeal ruled that the government’s decision to rescind DACA was unlawful.

The DACA program allows some individuals brought to the U.S. as children to receive a renewable two-year period

of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit. The program protects about 700,000 immigrants, mostly Latinx.

In November 2017, Princeton University, Microsoft, and Maria Perales Sanchez, a 2018 Princeton graduate, filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s termination of the DACA program.

In a statement last week, Princeton University Spokesperson Ben Chang said, “As we have said before, DACA is a wise and humane policy that benefits this country in multiple ways. It has allowed talented and motivated students — including plaintiff and Princeton graduate Maria Perales Sanchez — to pursue educations and contribute positively to our country. Eliminating protections for Dreamers would be a mistake and we continue to urge Congress to enact a permanent legislative solution to protect them.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith stated, “Dreamers make our country, community, and company stronger, and their protection is both a humanitarian obligation and an economic imperative. Today’s decision means the clock is now running, with even more reason for Congress to act.”

In her response to the Supreme Court announcement, Perales Sanchez said, “Today we receive the news that the Supreme Court will take the DACA case in the midst of heightened inhumanity against migrant and asylum-seeking communities. I reaffirm that the undocumented community and our allies are committed as ever to asserting migrant justice and advancing our rights as human beings.”

In 2016 Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber joined hundreds of colleges and universities in issuing a statement supporting DACA, and in an August 2017 letter to President Donald Trump, he advocated for the continuation of the DACA program.

Eisgruber also urged members of Congress to pass legislation that would provide legal status for immigrants living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status.

Two months ago, Eisgruber and other New Jersey higher education leaders sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation about the obstacles their institutions face in attracting and retaining international faculty, students, and staff. Princeton University also expressed concern for international students impacted by governmental delays in approving training for employment and internships in the U.S.