As the fate of thousands of immigrants hangs in the balance, some local colleges are coming up with plans to protect students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro released a statement Wednesday advocating for the government to quickly come up with a decision for the future of DACA students.
“In response to Tuesday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice to rescind DACA, our hope is that the Congress will bring greater clarity to provisions related to DACA," DiPietro wrote. "Removing uncertainty for those students currently in the United States as a result of DACA should be a priority."
There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States and an estimated 8,000 in Tennessee.
Maryville College has a small number of DACA students, or Dreamers, enrolled and sent out a letter to the entire student body reaffirming their support for the program.
"There is a great deal of fear and uncertainty that has been imposed on these students," Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart said. "The students we are getting from the DACA program are highly competitive and highly successful."
Maryville College says they will fight to protect their students and work to keep them enrolled, regardless of what happens with the law.
"We are not announcing how many there are or who they are. Immigration status is protected under federal privacy laws," Dr. Bogart said.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Obama-era policy would be terminated, arguing that it was unconstitutional.
"The program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Sessions said. "Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch."
President Donald Trump tweeted a statement passing the responsibility of finding a solution to the immigration problem to Congress.
"Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"
Carson-Newman University and Roane State Community College are also in the process of reviewing their policies that protect DACA students.