President Lemons on the Supreme Court's Decision to Uphold DACA

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The Supreme Court decision to uphold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – is a morally and economically wise one that also upholds the long, important legacy of the contributions immigrants have made to American society for centuries. We know, anecdotally, especially in the Bronx, the high value of DACA recipients in particular. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, an estimated 1.3 million DACA recipients contribute $1.7 billion a year in state and local taxes. Upholding DACA ensures that important resources for the Bronx, New York City and the state stay here.

In the Bronx, where Lehman College is proud to be a catalytic anchor institution committed to rebuilding a borough that was already under-resourced before COVID-19 and SARS-COV-2. Our students were among the estimated 200,000 frontline, essential workers who risked their health to provide for others, even as many of them lost loved ones to the pandemic. Despite these great risks, our first-generation students – 56 percent of the Lehman student population – in the epicenter of the nation’s epicenter for coronavirus deaths and infection rates because of long held disparities, continued to show up. Today’s decision is one way that our nation begins to show up for them.

In addition to this heartening Supreme Court decision, I am proud to work for an institution like CUNY which remains committed to being an engine of social mobility for all students – including DACA recipients. The way CUNY and Lehman College will continue to show up for DACA recipients is three-fold.

Lehman College, like our CUNY sister schools, has appointed two College Immigrant Student Success liaisons to augment Dream.US liaisons to help answer students’ questions about how to continue pursuing college degrees and/or credentials. We will continue to work to identify DACA recipients who remain eligible for in-state tuition under the Jose Peralta DREAM Act. And through ongoing fundraising efforts like the Campaign for Lehman College and the CUNY Emergency Relief Fund, we continue to seek donations to support undocumented students who have not been eligible for grants through the CARES Act.

While this fight has been won, for the moment, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure social justice and equality for those who have built this country and this economy, which includes many undocumented immigrants who came here to build on a tradition of opportunity and fairness. The words of our namesake Herbert H. Lehman, who fought for human rights for all, come to mind here: “The massive injustice of discrimination and repression against those of our fellow Americans, who happen to have a skin color of a different shade, is not only absolutely unjustifiable, in any sense, but, to me, absolutely intolerable … I identify myself with anybody and everybody who is suffering from discrimination. While they are suffering and are being denied their basic rights, I am not without pain, and I do not feel my rights to be secure.”


Daniel Lemons President