As students living in the country without legal permission and their families worry about what a Donald Trump presidency could mean for them, Houston Community College’s board on Thursday adopted a resolution pledging to protect all of its students, regardless of national origin or immigration status.
The 7-1 vote, with one abstention, came after HCC Trustee Zeph Capo organized a rally before the meeting to denounce the proposed education policies of Trump and Betsy DeVos, his pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education.
Capo, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the actions were meant to show that educators will not stand for any potential discrimination by the incoming administration.
“This is standing up to make sure every student has access to a great public school or university that is safe and welcoming, focused on the well-being of students,” Capo said. “That’s what we owe our students, and we will stand united against any effort to undermine public education.”
The central focus of the resolution and rally was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The federal policy mimics Texas’ version of the DREAM Act, which allows students living in the country illegally to attend and pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
Students, educators and immigration activists worry that Trump’s sharp rhetoric on illegal immigration could foreshadow an end to such programs.
Already, state Rep. Jonathan Strickland, R-Bedford, has filed a bill that would eliminate in-state tuition for students living in the country illegally, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has expressed support for the idea.
David Johnson, Houston ISD’s director of college readiness, said such a repeal could deter immigrant students from attaining post-secondary education.
“The fear that we hear in the district from students is that they’ll be deported if DACA is repealed,” Johnson said. “Part of what I do is to make sure students have the opportunity to attend college and feel safe and aren’t living in fear that they’ll be exposed or that their information will be sent to immigration officials.”
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