A resolution supporting the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was approved by the Hancock College board of trustees on Tuesday night, two months after the Trump administration announced its intent to end the program.
“I am extremely pleased that the board adopted the resolution in support of the DACA program," Kevin G. Walthers, superintendent/president of Hancock College, said Wednesday. "The action taken by our board reaffirms our mission and commitment as a college to change the odds for all of our students.”
Passed on a 4-1 vote, the resolution re-endorses the college's commitment to all students (regardless of their immigration or legal status) and calls on Congress to "preserve the DACA program and to work toward comprehensive immigration reform." The trustees have previously offered support to and promoted inclusion for undocumented students, and the college has directly worked with undocumented student groups since the Trump administration's decision.
Hancock College police do not detain, question or arrest individuals based on suspected legal status, and the college does not provide confidential student records (unless directly authorized by the student or required by law) without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order.
Although he agreed with the sentiment of the resolution, Area 2 Trustee Dan Hilker voted against the measure, believing that it did not do enough to directly protect the affected student population.
"I was hoping to see something with teeth," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I won't put my name or the names of the people I represent on a document that is just a feel-good platitude. I'd like to see something of substantial investment done by the college rather than [just] saying they feel for [them.]"
Hilker believes students who benefit from the DACA program are being used as a "political pingpong ball" in the current political landscape.
At Tuesday night's meeting, Hilker challenged trustees to make a strong public statement by returning and refusing federal funds. While he asserts the "off-the-cuff remark" was not a formal policy suggestion, Hilker said his challenge illustrated the "lip service" in the board's resolution.
"You cannot hold out one hand and ask for money, [while] shaking a fist at them with the other," he said. "I want [the board] to do something that has substance."
Hilker said he wants to work directly with undocumented students and plans to bring an additional proposal, possibly to designate a space at school specifically for undocumented students, to the board's December meeting.
"They wanted to have a unanimous, symbolic agreement on this. I'm not into symbolism, I'm into action," he said.