Clark College President Bob Knight was among 37 community and technical college leaders who signed onto the letter supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The letter, submitted last week by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, urges President-elect Donald Trump to continue the program, which allows the children of people who came to the U.S. without legal permission to receive deferred action from deportation.
Those children can qualify if they entered the United States before turning 16, are enrolled or graduated from high school and have not been convicted of a felony. The program also grants immigrants eligibility for a renewable two-year work period.
“These students are some of the best of the best and we fervently hope they will be able to follow their dream of higher education without the anxiety or dread that the federal authorities may interrupt their studies,” the letter reads.
President Barack Obama launched the DACA program in 2012 with an executive order. Trump’s views on immigration and rhetoric about Mexican immigrants — including when he early on in the campaign called Mexican immigrants “rapists” — became a cornerstone of his successful campaign.
Knight described the children of undocumented immigrants, as “very vulnerable in our community” due to their immigration status. Those students should be allowed to complete their high school and college education without fear of deportation, he said.
“I think it would relieve some folks,” he said. “I think this would help President-elect Trump if he was able to commit to that and support what President Obama did on this. It would benefit his presidency.”
Clark College does not collect residency information from its students and therefore cannot track or maintain data on the number of undocumented students on its campus.
Clark College is not the first to respond to concerns over Trump’s campaign rhetoric. The Southwest Washington LULAC Council, the local arm of the League of United Latin American Citizens, has hosted meetings for its members and other Latino and Hispanic members of the community in an effort to reassure families and discuss what could be next under Trump’s presidency.
“The biggest fear is what’s going to happen to our most vulnerable, regardless of status,” LULAC President Diana Perez said shortly after the election.