University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Tuesday criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to end the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, calling it contrary to American values.
Trump’s administration announced that the deferred action program would end in March. At the same time, the president encouraged Congress to act on the program, tied to a more comprehensive immigration reform package.
“This decision is antithetical to the core values and missions of the University of Maryland and higher education generally,” Loh said in a statement. “It penalizes law-abiding students who came to this country as infants or children and want to be contributing members of our society by studying, working, or serving in the military. Ending legal protection for these young people, before enacting a permanent legislative solution, would cause turmoil in their lives and contradicts our bedrock values as an immigrant nation.”
Loh called on Congress to pass a federal DREAM Act within the next six months, when the DACA program will expire, to protect the estimated 800,000 people living and working in the United States who could be at risk of deportation.
He said the university has lobbied the Maryland congressional delegation to support the DREAM Act and at a minimum to make the deferred action program statute.
In his statement, Loh estimated that around 100 students at the university have enrolled in the deferred action program. He also said the university would continue to offer these students “all avenues” of support.
“For most of the young adults and students in the DACA program, this is the only country they have ever known,” Loh said. “They deserve a legal status that recognizes their contributions to our country and safeguards them from the continuing uncertainty about their future. It is in our interest as a democracy that we call on Congress to act, swiftly and with compassion.”
Loh has not been hesitant to criticize Trump, especially on issues of immigration. Shortly after Trump took office, Loh criticized his immigration ban.
Loh himself is an immigrant. He was born in China and grew up in Peru with his family. He immigrated to the United States after high school.