Memo to the USC Community Regarding DACA
November 30, 2016
To the USC Community,
There has been significant deliberation and debate recently about potential changes to federal policies that might impact higher education. One specific area of heightened concern, both nationally and on our campus, involves the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and the status of college and university students who are protected by it. At this time, we simply do not know the direction the new administration will take with regard to major issues affecting higher education, including those related to DACA. What we do know is that we are all members of the Trojan Family, that we will remain committed to each other and to our shared values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that we will do everything within our power to ensure that all of our students are provided with a safe and nurturing environment, and access to financial support and other resources, so that they may thrive and achieve their full potential.
We have received a number of questions regarding USC’s current policies and our support for DACA students. It is important to state unequivocally that, as a university, we fully comply with all laws. We follow the constitutional mandate against unreasonable searches and seizures and therefore ask that law enforcement acquire the appropriate warrants prior to assisting them in contacting anyone in our community. Our Department of Public Safety follows the lead of the Los Angeles Police Department, which does not initiate law enforcement activities based solely on immigration status. We likewise follow the protections afforded to our students by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and this means we do not disseminate student records without student consent or a judicial order. Along with more than 300 other colleges and universities, President Nikias is a signatory to the Statement in Support of the DACA Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students, and, as a university, we will continue to advocate on behalf of the DACA program.
We also have received questions about how USC might respond to scenarios that may or may not occur. While it is premature to speculate about an uncertain future, please know that we will continue to be guided by our Principles of Community and by what is in the best interests of our students. Accordingly, we have commissioned a task force of faculty, staff, and students to advise me on additional measures we can take to support our university community in response to potential changes in immigration policy. The initial roster of the Provost’s Advisory Task Force on Immigration Issues is appended to this memo along with a list of available campus resources.
In addition, we are providing funding to the USC Center for Immigrant Integration to organize town hall meetings so that USC becomes the “public square for Los Angeles” on the many issues — and viewpoints — surrounding immigration and immigrant integration. We also have asked the USC Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic to provide campus training and leadership on DACA-specific issues as we learn more about the new administration’s policies. These opportunities, along with many other programs, events, discussions, and lectures focused on the impact of the presidential election, will continue next semester. More information can be found here.
There is little doubt that, as has been the case throughout our nation’s history, immigration policies will continue to be a major topic for discussion, debate, and — especially for institutions of higher education — scholarly inquiry and study. Given our location in one of the most immigrant-populated cities in the world, and our commitment to tackling the most intractable issues of the 21st Century, USC should be at the forefront of research and education on this topic. For this reason, as we have done with our initiatives on homelessness, lifespan health, security & sustainability, and arts for social change, we have formed a deans’ steering committee to work with faculty, staff, and students to create a plan for USC to take a leading role on this issue. The committee will be led by Dean Andrew Guzman; the roster is appended to this memo.
Ultimately, our values define us as a university community, and we will remain steadfast in our belief that everyone should have access to higher education and that we have a critical role to play as a preeminent private university focused on the public good.
Michael W. Quick
USC Office of Financial Aid
USC Office of International Services
USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
USC Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic
PROVOST’S ADVISORY TASK FORCE ON IMMIGRATION ISSUES
Niels W. Frenzen, Clinical Professor of Law; Director of Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic
Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity; Co-Director, USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
Jody Agius Vallejo, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity; Co-Director, USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
Cindy Pineda, Undergraduate Student Government
Paul Samaha, Undergraduate Student Government
Claudia Chirino, Graduate Student Government
Carlos A. Reyes-Ruiz, Graduate Student Government
David Donovan, USC Staff Assembly
DEANS’ STEERING COMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION
Andrew Guzman, Gould School of Law – lead
Elizabeth Daley, School of Cinematic Arts
James Ellis, Marshall School of Business
Karen Symms Gallagher, Rossier School of Education