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College joins court brief challenging Trump DACA repeal

November 10, 2017

Bowdoin has joined 49 other colleges and universities in submitting a legal document of support for a case challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The brief was filed on November 1 in the northern California U.S. District Court in support of the University of California’s lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff asserts that rescinding DACA is unconstitutional.

The amicus brief serves as a legal statement of support from Bowdoin and other institutions for the case filed by the University of California, but does not make the College party to the case.

In an email to the Orient, Scott Hood, senior vice president for communications and public affairs, said that President Clayton Rose heard about the suit and asked Leana Amaez, associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion, who has a background as a public defender, to look into the possibility of Bowdoin signing on.

“I think the institutions feel that our students and our immigrant students are an important part of the College and that they deserve to be here, that they have earned the right to higher education, that they have worked hard, as have all of our students, and that they should be able to access an education like Bowdoin,” said Amaez.

In order to submit an amicus brief in the case, Bowdoin and other colleges must argue that they will be harmed by the termination of DACA. The brief argues that revoking DACA directly impacts institutions including Bowdoin in numerous ways, including the loss of important members of their academic communities and a diversity of perspectives in the classroom. The brief reads, “American institutions of higher education benefit profoundly from the presence of immigrant students on our campuses.”

“If such an unlawful decision is allowed to stand—and these young people take their tremendous talent, enthusiasm, and skills elsewhere—we (both amici and the country as a whole) will be the losers,” the brief continues.

Amaez said that because Bowdoin is not party to the case, the College believes the submission of the brief does not put any of its DACA students at risk. “Because it doesn’t expose any of our students or make Bowdoin the center of this—the danger of that being that if we’re at the center of a lawsuit with very few students, we wouldn’t want to make them feel more vulnerable,” said Amaez.

The institutions state that they have dedicated valuable resources, such as financial aid, to DACA students, expecting them to see their education through at their respective universities.

The document was filed with the court behalf the institutions by Jenner & Block LLP, a Washington D.C. based law firm, who executed the writing of the document and accepted input from the co-signatories. According to Amaez, Bowdoin was afforded the opportunity to suggest edits but felt none were necessary.

“This is an opportunity for us to be a part of fighting what seems to be a very unfair attack on a group of people that we think are really vital members of our community, and this is one way the College can stand with those students both at Bowdoin and across the country,” said Amaez.

The University of California case that Bowdoin is supporting has been consolidated with other cases, one filed by the city of San Jose and one by the states of California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, which similarly challenge the constitutionality of the executive order.

Last Friday, Princeton University, one of its students and Microsoft jointly filed what is now the latest of many lawsuits against DACA’s rescission.

Bowdoin is joined by five other NESCAC colleges in submitting the brief: Amherst College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Tufts University and Williams College. In a separate amicus brief, 19 other institutions, including all Ivy Leagues, similarly argued that the rescission of DACA harms their institutions.

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