CMC board urges action on DACA, immigration reform |

CMC board urges action on DACA, immigration reform

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Rifle High School student Maria Munoz holds a sign and candle at a DACA rally held in front of Glenwood Springs High School in early December.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Colorado Mountain College is weighing in on the national immigration debate, calling for congressional action to protect so-called Dreamers along with “meaningful and permanent” immigration reform.

The CMC Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday in favor of a resolution endorsing immigration reform, and in support of CMC students who have benefited from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

“The CMC Board of Trustees stands with the nation’s leaders to express its strongest support for meaningful and permanent immigration reform, including legal status and citizenship opportunities for our Dreamer children who know no other home outside the United States of America,” the board resolution states.

It also authorizes college management to join local, regional, state and national efforts in finding a solution.

The move comes as a federal judge last week temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. President Donald Trump, in his September move to end the program, gave Congress until March to act on an immigration bill including greater border security and possibly giving legal status to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, known as Dreamers.

Trump last week also tweeted that DACA is “probably dead” when talks over an immigration deal stalled amid threats of a government shutdown at the end of this week.

“Through our unanimous vote on the resolution, the CMC trustees demonstrated we stand together to express our strongest possible support for our nation’s elected leaders to implement permanent and meaningful immigration reform,” said Patty Theobald, president of the CMC Board of Trustees.

“This reform should include legal status and citizenship opportunities for young people like our students who, under DACA, have found it more affordable to receive a college education and to then give back to their hometown communities here on the Western Slope,” she said.

CMC President and CEO Carrie Besnette Hauser said the cloud hanging over DACA status could affect an estimated 300 CMC students who qualify under the program. Nationwide, it puts some 700,000 college students in limbo.

“That needs to be part of a comprehensive conversation around immigration reform,” Hauser said. “These are mostly young people who are working and living in our communities, and they don’t know what’s next.”

For its part, CMC, with campuses in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, Lake and Routt counties, “is still a welcome, open-access institution,” she said.

“We’re hopeful people in Washington will come back and recognize that this issue is beyond politics, and it’s time to make some reasonable decisions,” Hauser said.

She added that it’s relevant as the nation honors Martin Luther King Jr. this week, and the contributions he made “to critical inquiry and access for all.”

“If Dr. King were still alive today, I would like to think that he would be heartened by the CMC Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote to support immigration reform and in support of CMC students who have benefited from the DACA program,” she said.

The CMC board vote was the first conducted by electronic vote since passage last year of state legislation allowing the votes of elected boards in large, multi-county districts to be done in that manner.

Trustees wanted to ensure that the resolution could be sent to Colorado’s congressional delegation and the Colorado General Assembly in advance of the likely imminent discussions on DACA.