Today is the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. For Princeton, it is a day of both pride and frustration.
Pride, because DACA students at Princeton have conducted important research, served in leadership roles, and been able to participate in all aspects of the university experience. They join the hundreds of thousands of young people whom DACA has helped to live, work, and travel legally in the United States—enriching our society and economy.
Princeton also takes pride in its efforts to protect DACA in the courts. In 2017, the University and Microsoft joined a Princeton student who is also a DREAMer in filing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the previous administration from ending the program. We were supported in this effort by hundreds of educational institutions, religious groups, companies, cities, and counties. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court vindicated our position and rejected the attempted rescission of this valuable program.
But while we took action to protect DACA, we knew that DACA by itself was not a permanent solution to the challenges facing DREAMers. Our goal was to keep DACA going long enough for lawmakers to come up with a better path to permanent legal status for undocumented Americans who came here as children—and to find bipartisan solutions for our broken immigration system in general.
Which is why this is also a day of frustration, because ten years is too long to wait.
At Princeton, we have more than two centuries of experience observing how international students and scholars enrich the University and strengthen the American research enterprise. Just this month, a new book co-authored by Princeton economics Professor Leah Boustan offers powerful new empirical evidence supporting the economic case for welcoming immigrants from all backgrounds and countries. The book, Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success, shows that children of all immigrant groups do well economically, and it debunks assumptions that immigrants displace U.S. born workers or dramatically increase crime.
It is long past time for a legislative solution that provides certainty—including a path to citizenship—for the generation of young people who came to this country as children and who grew up in the United States.
Many now have children of their own who are American citizens. They deserve not only the right to remain here, but also the recognition that their contributions to this country—their country—are as valued as those of any American.