​University Students and DACA

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

At three-years-old, Maria Trejo was brought to America from Mexico. She said her parents were quite young when she was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and that her father moved to the states to work to make money for his young family.
After strikes broke out at her mother’s school, university officials called for the closing of the school. That is when Trejo was brought across the border. She lived in Mobile, Ala., until moving to Sewanee for college.
Now a sophomore at the University, living in the south is all she has known. She said with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), she has been granted the freedom to not be forced to live in the shadows.
“Living a normal life is basically what DACA has meant for me. And it has meant not being afraid anymore,” she said.
In a notice to students on Sept. 5, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Terry Papillon made clear that the University would stand behind DACA students.
“The University is committed to supporting all of our students and, along with many other institutions, is on record in supporting DACA. Today’s announcement did not offer much specific information, and some may feel anxious in this period of uncertainty. There are staff and offices that are ready to assist you if you have concerns or questions as a result of the announcement about the DACA Program,” according to the announcement.
Trejo, who said she has always liked psychology and been interested in politics, is able to attend the University under DACA, majoring in psychology and political science. She said she is most worried about those who are younger than her not being afforded the same opportunities.
“Worst-case scenario for me is not being able to get a job after graduating, but my family and I have already started coming up with plans for what we would do if that happened,” she said. “I’m not worried for myself because I am able to get an education here at Sewanee, but it’s more for the kids who are younger who recently got DACA. They will have it for two years, but then they won’t be able to go to college.”
Trejo said she is mostly unafraid because of her position at Sewanee, but having to constantly attempt to prove that she is worthy of living where she knows can be tiring.
“We all knew DACA was temporary. Everyone has always had the fear that it would be taken away. But it feels pretty terrible, not just for me. It just pits people against each other. No one should have to argue that they deserve to live in their home,” she said.
Eric Benjamin, Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University, said they are keeping up-to-date concerning news around DACA.
“We are monitoring the situation actively. Student energy is focused on raising funds to help with the fees our government charges to reapply for DACA, and we are developing contingency plans in the event the president ends the Dreamers program,” he said.
For more information about DACA at the University, visit the site for the Office of the Dean of Students www.sewanee.edu/student-life/dean-of-students-offi... and navigate to the student resources tab.