Penn President Amy Gutmann wrote a letter to President Donald Trump last week urging him "in the strongest possible terms" to continue an Obama-era program that protects nearly 790,000 young undocumented immigrants — including a handful of Penn students.
"These young people have grown up in our communities, attended our schools, and have both the strong desire and impressive capacity to make vital contributions to our nation's future economic strength and global competitiveness," Gutmann wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 31. "They are also vulnerable, and at this moment in time they need the power and compassion of your office to stand up for them."
The Trump administration announced Tuesday morning that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months, calling on Congress to pass legislation to replace the program.
Hours after the announcement, Gutmann also released a statement condemning the decision, writing that today is a "heartbreaking day for our country."
"We know the Dreamers to be gifted and successful students who have grown up in our communities, attended our schools, and who are poised to make vital contributions to our nation’s economic strength, creativity, and global competitiveness," Gutmann's statement read.
DACA grants work permits and temporary, two-year protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who meet education requirements, have committed no serious crimes, have lived in the United States since 2007, arrived before they were 16 and were younger than 31 at the time of the 2012 executive order by former President Barack Obama.
The program does not offer a path to citizenship or legal permanent residency.
Gutmann has made statements in favor of immigrant rights in the past. While she declined to call Penn a "sanctuary campus," Gutmann wrote in a November 2016 email following student and faculty petitions that Penn would not allow immigration enforcement officials on campus unless required by warrant and that the University would continue to advocate for immigration reform, including DACA.
In a March 2017 interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Gutmann emphasized the University's advocacy for DACA but again declined to use the politically charged term "sanctuary campus."
“We, as I said in my email, have long been a safe space for students, faculty and staff," Gutmann said. "And I will continue, and we will continue to advocate for DACA, for extension of DACA, for the BRIDGE [Act] and continue to do that."
Senior Reporter Caroline Simon contributed reporting.
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