VanAken writes letter to Congress regarding DACA

By Victoria Martin, News Editor

EC President Troy VanAken followed through with his statement from earlier this semester by writing three letters to congress regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), demanding a reinstatement of its protections.

“In registering under the DACA program, our students placed their trust in our government. They agreed to play by our rules and meet our standards and, in turn, America would protect them,” VanAken wrote. “Removing this protection violates this trust and also pushes away a critical talent pool that is needed for America to compete in a 21st century, globalized economy.”

He wrote the letters to the Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and House Representative Mike Quigley, discussing their individual time spent at EC and the value placed on inclusivity of the campus.

“[I] have been proud to lead an institution that celebrates the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our students and our community,” VanAken wrote.

Associate Professor of the Political Science Department Constance Mixon, who VanAken worked with on the letter because of her experience with Durban and the DREAM Act in the early 2000’s, was pleased with the end result of the letter.

“I’m glad he’s reached out and engaged us using, largely, a lot of the language I suggested,” Mixon said.

In support of VanAken’s letter Ana Garcia, a DACA student at EC, expressed her appreciation in an email interview.

“As a DACA student at Elmhurst, I felt a sense of safety to have the president voice his support for DACA, and I’m sure it has helped other DACA students feel the same,” she wrote.

Mixon continued to describe the rescinding of DACA as a “window of opportunity for the DREAM Act,” as she feels there are enough republicans in the House that see a need for a replacement act.

As for what can be done to help get something passed in the House and Senate, Garcia asked for professors to be more informed about the issue.

“As far as what else can be done, I think educating faculty about the issue and having faculty be informed in regards to the resources Elmhurst offers to DACA students [would help],” Garcia wrote. “For example, [VanAken] let me know that legal services are being provided to any DACA student at Elmhurst at no cost to the student.”

From the faculty point of view, Mixon suggested that students get more politically involved.

“[VanAken] and faculty can scream until they are blue in the face,” said Mixon, “but ultimately the student voice means a lot.” 

Mixon elaborated by saying that there are students on campus who do not live in the districts and state VanAken wrote for and that they should also call their representatives, giving their stories and supporting DACA.

“Part of the problem is that the senators [VanAken] wrote to are already in favor of finding a replacement, so the letter is not so much asking for support but for thanking and showing appreciation for the support they have already given.”