Briefly: Academic morality and DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has recently come under threat. An Obama-era program, it allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to apply for renewable permits to work and go to school in the States. Essentially, it hedges against the prospect of an undocumented immigrant being utterly denied the opportunity to participate in American society.

What I found interesting in the Atlantic article linked above was the source of critique. A number of university officials are writing letters to the Executive advocating against a repeal of DACA. In their arguments, they consistently focused on the economic benefits of DACA. Author Isabel Fattal quoted professor Chad Wellmon, who argued that universities could go beyond the most banal of arguments. Universities could also assert their intellectual demands in terms of the “project of the university”, as Wellmon put it.

Beyond that, there is also the opportunity for universities to argue against the moral goodness of the action, which I think is an argument that should not go unmade. Even nominally “nonpartisan” institutions can make arguments which invoke morality, when the circumstances align themselves correctly.

 

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