NAFEO DACA Letter to President Trump

September 5, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

I am writing as CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the only 501 (c) (3), tax exempt membership association representing the nation’s 106 Historically Black Universities (HBCUs) and emerging Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) and the 700,000 student enrollees, 72,000 faculty, and roughly 7 million alumni associated with these institutions. I am writing to note the disappointment of our members with your decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy even with the 6-month wind-down period. Our members hope that you will provide the national leadership that will lead Congress to adopt a longer-term approach to the US immigration policy that will not punish or exclude from this country persons currently in or eligible for DACA, persons who will help this nation meet its human talent, human needs, excellence, diversity, and justice goals.

I am writing to pledge that HBCUs and PBIs will continue serving as exemplars of inclusion and diversity. HBCUs have approximately 30% student diversity and nearly 40% faculty diversity. PBIs have minimally 40% student diversity. Both educate and graduate diverse students without regard to  their race, ethnicity, culture, religion, national origin, or other non-bona fide criteria. A strength of America’s HBCUs and MSIs is their diversity, and they are poised to continue bridging the nation’s workforce and entrepreneurship, excellence and diversity gaps to help America thrive and have a workforce reflective of the rich diversity of the world.

You described the Dreamers as “incredible kids.” Many of them are enrolled in or have graduated from the nation’s higher education institutions, including 2- and 4-year HBCUs and PBIs. They are preparing their minds, bodies, and souls to meet the nation’s labor force, entrepreneurial corps, executive leadership, research, scientific, technological, arts, infrastructure, civic, human services, and ecumenical needs. They are assisting us in bridging the important racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender gaps in our armed services, which makes our nation stronger.

Our nation is at a critical juncture–a point at which we must decide in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “whether we will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive …[policies],” policies that gave rise to HBCUs. We are at a point at which we must decide as a nation whether to continue down a path that will keep America divisible along lines of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, or if we will move toward becoming one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Mr. President, we need your leadership in moving the nation to being its best self–one nation of many men and women, many backgrounds, cultures, stripes, nationalities, and creeds, indivisible and thriving.

The ability of our nation to realize its full potential, and the ability of American democracy to prosper, dictate that we integrate into the American social and economic fabric our Sons and Daughters brought to America at young ages, and who have remained in America acquiring knowledge and skills and using them for the betterment of our nation. Data suggest there are some 800,000 such individuals registered under DACA. These young people have not been convicted of a serious crime, and that they do not present a threat to national security or public safety.

Many of those in DACA have work permits and are contributing substantially to our tax base and making America greater. They do not feed at the national trough. They are ineligible for federal means-tested human needs benefits, Pell Grants and federal student loans. America is their home.  To kick them out of this country, to banish them from the only home they know would be heartless and cruel.

Mr. President, we need your leadership in ensuring that as Congress seeks a long-term solution to the US immigration policy–one that focuses on meeting the nation’s talent and diversity needs, and one that while recruiting the talent we need to make our nation strong, is inclusive and is also focused on building talent from within so that more Americans, more diverse Americans, have the skills that are needed to make America thrive. To this end, we must continue and grow the H-1B Education Fund and its HBCUs, and the Minority-serving Institutions Fund, so that as we keep open our borders to those we need to help meet our goals for growth, high- and urgent-need talent, we also increase the numbers and diversity of native born Americans who meet our talent needs. There is some bipartisan support in Congress for this action. With your leadership, you can ensure that this support persists and grows. The nation’s 106 HBCUs and emerging PBIs are poised to work with you toward this end. With investments in these institutions commensurate with their output, they will do even more to bridge the nation’s workforce and entrepreneurship, excellence and diversity gaps.

Sincerely,

Lezli Baskerville
President  & CEO
110 Maryland Avenue, N.E.
Suite 511
Washington, D.C.  20002
(202) 552-3300

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