Reminder of Resources – and Support – for DACA and Undocumented Students

February 16, 2017

The recent arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, and his father in Washington State raises concerns that are felt personally by many members of our University community.

I write now to share information and a reminder of resources for undocumented students at Columbia.  These services and support are ongoing for as long as circumstances require, and will be updated as conditions change.

I also want to reiterate Columbia's strong support for the DACA program, as Provost Coatsworth shared with the community in November:  We subscribe to the view of the Association of American Universities that “DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded,” and we will continue to express that commitment in the future. 

DACA Overview

DACA is an executive order from President Obama in 2012 that enables young people who are undocumented and meet certain criteria (including arrival in the U.S. before age 16) to receive a renewable two-year period of “deferred action” from deportation and other basic legal protections.  Some undocumented students at Columbia and at other colleges and universities in the U.S. have DACA status and have relied on this status to provide protection against deportation.  Although statements were made during President Trump’s election campaign about ending DACA, the program currently remains in place.  For more detailed information, please check this overview on the University Life website.

Undocumented immigrants have rights summarized in this fact sheet

DACA Liaison – AVP Ixchel Rosal

Associate Vice President for Student Life Ixchel Rosal in the Office of University Life serves as the liaison for DACA and undocumented students across the University, working closely with students and faculty and staff across Columbia on DACA-related services, support and communication. (Students can also meet with their school’s student affairs advisors if they choose.) Please email [email protected] to connect; her office hours are Tuesdays and Fridays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. She can also be available beyond these hours.

Legal Assistance for Undocumented Students

The University has arranged for pro bono legal representation for DACA and undocumented students on immigration-related matters. Undocumented students can work directly with a lawyer at no cost to explore options and, if appropriate, apply for other immigration relief. Students interested in connecting with an attorney can contact Jody Drafta at the Office of University Life, at  [email protected] by phone at (212) 854-5527

Mental Health Support

Students with concerns about immigration policies affecting DACA and undocumented students can join a support group for mutual support and stress management strategies. The group provides a safe, unstructured space for students and is facilitated by Dr. Carolina Franco, who specializes in the immigrant experience and new American/first generation identity development. Contact Dr. Franco at [email protected] or call (212) 854-2878

Finally, I want to acknowledge, again, the serious concerns and fears that the recent arrest and related immigration pronouncements have caused for DACA and undocumented students, and others in our community.  Please use the resources here if they are useful to you and share them with other Columbia students who might find them helpful.   

I also want to recognize the additional ways in which immigration policies, including the recent immigration executive order, affect and concern many in our community.  I will write again at greater length on these issues.  For now, please check the International Students and Scholars Office website for more information, including the video of our University Life forum on Immigration, Executive Orders and Our Community.

With appreciation for our community,

Suzanne Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law