The Trump Administration announced last Monday that it would end the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) program established by executive order under President Barack Obama. The program will end in six months, giving Congress an opportunity to address the status of over 1.5 million people who came to America as undocumented children.
While there may be merits to the DACA program and protecting children who were brought to America through no fault of their own, the program needed to be enacted legislatively and not through executive action.
There are 28,000 people living in Virginia with so-called deferred action status. Many of them have lived their entire lives here as productive citizens. Many are bright and capable students. But, ultimately we are a nation that believes in the rule of law and there was no legal basis for so-called “DACA” status.
This is another example of why I am so frustrated with Washington. They cannot get anything done, and it creates a lot of problems for people. Ultimately, this is a legal issue that Congress must take action on. Our democracy is not built on executive orders, but rather a balanced and deliberative legislative process. Congress has said time and again they support comprehensive immigration reform. Now is their opportunity to act on it.
In April of 2014, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring advised Virginia colleges and universities that people with DACA status were eligible for in-state tuition. Attorney General Herring advised that DACA met the requirements for domicile, including “domiciliary intent,” which requires an intent to stay indefinitely. He concluded this despite the fact that DACA status is, by definition, only a temporary, two-year designation.
DACA students and illegal immigrants should not receive in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities. Legal, U.S. citizens living in Virginia should be first in line to receive these all-too-scarce in-state tuition slots.
Over the next few weeks and months I will be spending time out in the district meeting constituents and scheduling meetings with businesses and groups in the 59th District. I encourage you to contact my office if you have an issue or concern that I may be able to help assist with. I value the feedback you provide as it helps me do my job representing you better. You can email me at DelMFariss@virginia.house.gov or call me at (434)821-5929. You can also join the conversation on our social media page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.