September 20, 2017 In The News

Norcross meets with DACA students

Read more on the Courier Post, here.

CAMDEN — U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross on Wednesday joined representatives from Rutgers University–Camden in expressing support for students and others protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The Camden County Democrat met with undocumented students, DACA beneficiaries and university officials for a closed-door roundtable discussion about the program, which offers protections for those brought to the United States as children, under limited circumstances.

“We’re four-square in support of our immigrant students,” said Michael Sepanic, a spokesman for the university. Sepanic said the Camden campus of the state university had 75 students who are undocumented or are protected by DACA; however, since students self-report and are not required to disclose their immigration status to the school, he acknowledged those numbers may be higher.

President Donald Trump, who made curbing immigration and cracking down on undocumented immigrants a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign, has given Congress a six-month deadline to pass legislation to formalize the provisions of the program that began with an executive order by President Barack Obama.

Norcross, who said he prefers Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform, acknowledged that fear and uncertainty have forced many back into the shadows; none of the students who met with Norcross or Rutgers officials would agree to being identified for this story.

“We’re here today to listen to (undocumented students’) stories,” Norcross said, calling them “heart-wrenching.”

“And quite frankly, their stories are America’s stories. … Most of us are only a generation or two from being those immigrants.

“We understand the fear that has now crept in,” he said. “This has been the only home they have ever known.”

In a Sept. 5 email addressed to the Rutgers–Camden campus community, Chancellor Phoebe Haddon wrote, “I believe that the promise of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrants strengthens our nation’s prospects for economic growth and most importantly reaffirms our shared American values of compassion and the humane treatment of all people.”

Outlining support services for students in need of assistance, including legal assistance through the newly established Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP), Haddon said that “the potential harm done by any decision to reduce or remove (DACA) …would be very real and, in many cases, would risk irreversible damage to the lives of people who are not faceless statistics. They are our friends and families, and our classmates and our students. They are fellow members of our Rutgers family and they are valued and respected.”

Undocumented students, she continued, “should know that you are not alone.”

“Rutgers stands with you, and I pledge that we will do everything possible to help you successfully complete your Rutgers degree.”