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Joint statement affirms support for DACA students

April 11, 2017

The following statement was issued April 10, 2017, by Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School; Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life; and Laura Spitz, vice provost for international affairs:

As part of our ongoing monitoring of federal policy regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, we would like to update you on Cornell’s policies with respect to our DACA students.

As announced late last year, all currently enrolled undergraduate DACA students will continue to be eligible for need-based financial aid, meeting full demonstrated need. New applicants (including transfers) with DACA status will be considered in the domestic need-blind admissions pool, and admitted students will be eligible for need-based aid meeting full demonstrated need for their entire undergraduate enrollment at Cornell.

We understand that currently enrolled graduate students who hold DACA status and receive funding through the university may have concerns about their own situations should DACA, which includes federal work authorization, be discontinued. These students will continue to receive funding for the complete length of time offered in their admissions letters (assuming satisfactory academic progress). If DACA were to be discontinued and graduate students were to lose federal work authorization, fellowship funding (which does not require this authorization) will be provided to these students instead of an assistantship. This will honor the funding commitment each received at time of admission to Cornell.

Looking ahead, if enrolled Cornell students – or new students who will be joining us in the fall – have DACA status that recently expired or is soon expiring, Cornell will continue to consider them in our “domestic” financial aid policy, as above, even if they choose, for personal reasons, not to apply for DACA renewal. If students with DACA status are due to renew and are having trouble covering the application fee, they may apply through Cornell’s financial aid office to have the cost of the DACA application fee covered through a university loan.

If federal policy with respect to the DACA program changes, Cornell will examine how we can develop, administer and use a DACA-like set of criteria to enable undocumented students who meet the criteria, particularly having resided in the U.S. for a significant amount of time, to qualify for domestic financial aid and admissions policies. We expect other universities may have similar aims should federal DACA policy change, and we will collaborate with our peer institutions regarding this approach.

We recognize that a number of students are concerned that the uncertainty around federal immigration policy might impact their ability to travel abroad to return home this summer. We will make on-campus housing options available for students in this situation; those interested should contact housing@cornell.edu for more information.

Finally, Cornell will continue to vigilantly protect the privacy of student information and records from any unauthorized or unlawful intrusion. While Cornell representatives, including the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD), will comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and warrants, it is neither the University’s practice nor expectation to function as an agent of the federal government regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws. This means that CUPD will not honor a civil immigration detainer request from a federal agent unless accompanied by a judicial warrant except in the narrow circumstances delineated in Tompkins County Resolution 2017-21. CUPD will not seek immigration status information of any individual in the course of its law enforcement activities unless necessary to investigate criminal activity by that individual or required by law. (They are required, however, to ask the citizenship of arrested individuals.) Cornell Police have always acted, and will continue to perform their duties, in a professional manner and in the spirit of rules established for officers in the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

For assistance and more information, we offer several informational and counseling services, and we continue to post updates on immigration-related executive orders. Cornell Law School has set up a new program to provide free legal advice to undocumented Cornell students who may wish to consult with a lawyer about the implications of national immigration policy shifts for their immigration status. And a team of law school faculty will also offer legal assistance in the form of representation for DACA students for which a legal representation fund has been established. For assistance, contact immigrationhelp@cornell.edu or call 607-254-4638. Cornell international students and scholars with any concerns can always contact the International Students and Scholars Office.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

 

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