College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

COA president urges child protections

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92 has joined the leaders of over 400 colleges and universities from across the country in signing an open letter urging the preservation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.

The letter, also signed by the presidents of Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges here in Maine, states that continuation and even expansion of the DACA program is “a moral imperative and a national necessity.”

“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities,” the open letter says. “America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders, they are essential to the future.”

The DACA program currently offers protections to over 700,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. without authorization as children. President Barack Obama established the program by executive action in 2012, granting work permits and deportation protection to certain children who arrived in the United States after 2007. Many of these children now attend American colleges and universities.

President-Elect Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his intentions to dismantle the program and institute tough deportation policies.

“We are committed to fostering a welcoming, diverse, inclusive environment at College of the Atlantic for all students, wherever they may be from,” Collins said. “We do not, and never will, discriminate against any student based on their country of origin, and I urge the incoming administration to consider doing the same.”

The open letter was spearheaded by the president of Pomona College, in Claremont, Calif. Signatories are offering to meet with U.S. leaders to present their case, and are asking others to join them in support.

“We call on our colleagues and other leaders across the business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join with us in this urgent matter,” the letter states. “As educational leaders, we are committed to upholding free inquiry and education in our colleges and universities, and to providing the opportunity for all our students to pursue their learning and life goals.”

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