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Washington’s community and technical college leaders, including South Seattle College President Gary Oertli, sent President-elect Donald Trump a letter asking him to preserve an executive action that allows young undocumented adults to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. The letter was signed by the nine members of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and presidents and chancellors of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.
The letter responds to Trump’s campaign promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program launched in 2012. The program allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before they turned 16 to receive temporary protection from deportation. It also grants them eligibility for a renewable two-year work permit.
“These students work hard to better their lives and that of their families. They are among the brightest and most dedicated students we have. We want to be sure they receive the quality education they deserve,” said State Board member Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney.
The letter stressed the return on students’ K-12 education investment taxpayers receive if these students are allowed to complete their educations and enter the workforce. There is no return on that investment if those students must leave the country, the letter said. Additionally, the letter stated, many employers need bilingual and bicultural employees to compete in a global market.
“We have an unflinching commitment to open education, diversity and inclusion,” said Gary Oertli, president of the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges and of South Seattle College. “We believe everybody should have the opportunity to learn, expand their horizons and lift our communities.”
The state Legislature in 2014 passed the REAL Hope Act which allows undocumented students to apply for state financial aid. It also passed legislation in 2003 that allows undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.
Learn more about state financial aid for DREAMers from South’s Financial Aid office.