A Way to Advocate for Undocumented Students

September 5, 2017

Members of the Rutgers Community:

I wrote to you a short while ago discussing the Trump Administration’s announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Clearly, preserving the protections afforded under DACA must now become a legislative priority.

We need to work together to secure passage of an amended version of the BRIDGE Act, bipartisan legislation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives that would extend the DACA protections to students at colleges or universities throughout the nation.  Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are the lead Senate sponsors for the legislation S.128, known as the BRIDGE Act. Other original co-sponsors include Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The lead sponsors for the House counterpart, H.R.496, are Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). Original cosponsors of the House bill include Jeff Denham (R-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Carlos L. Curbelo (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Judy Chu (D-CA).

Many Rutgers students participated in an advocacy effort in January, and more than 20,000 letters were sent to Representatives and Senators across the country. Our community needs to do it again. We need to send even more letters. We need to do it now.

The BRIDGE Act would extend “provisional protected presence” to DACA-eligible individuals. Under the terms of the current bill, a DACA recipient would receive provisional protected status until the expiration date of his or her DACA status. An individual who is not a DACA recipient but who is eligible for DACA could also apply for provisional protected presence. We believe that for all DACA-eligible individuals, the expiration date should be extended until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted. To include this provision will require an amendment to the proposed legislation.

As with DACA, applicants under the amended BRIDGE Act would be required to pay a reasonable fee, be subject to criminal background checks, and meet a number of eligibility criteria indicating that they came to the United States as minors, grew up in this country, have pursued an education, have not committed any serious crimes, and do not pose a threat to our country. 

Taking action to show your support is easy—it will take no more than a minute or two of your time. Simply follow this link to the Rutgers Advocacy webpage. Once there, you will be asked to provide your name and address; the advocacy program will generate a letter of support that will be emailed to your US Senators and Representative. The program automatically identifies your appropriate elected representative from your home address. The letter is pre-written, so you may review it before you hit “send.”

Let me emphasize that participation in this effort is entirely optional; while I am deeply troubled by the Trump Administration’s action to end DACA and I personally support extending the current DACA protections, I understand that some members of the Rutgers community may not share my point of view. I would never presume to tell you what to do with respect to legislative advocacy. We are offering this option to you because many people in our community have participated in activities to advocate for undocumented students, and this call to action provides a way, if you so choose, to express support for legislation that would achieve the public policy for which so many at Rutgers have been advocating.


Robert Barchi