In February of this year, your fellow students voted on an important policy update at ASDA’s House of Delegates. The resolution updated ASDA’s Policy E-4, Sensitivity to Diversity. Amid the flurry of a constantly changing immigration policy from President Trump, delegates wanted to take an official stance. ASDA delegates voted to include, “ASDA encourages the appropriate dental school admissions agencies to give equal admissions consideration to undocumented students with intent to seek legal permanent status.” This means that ASDA supports our diverse students and applicants without considering immigration status. Understanding the policy’s meaning and its relationship to the Trump Administration policy allows students to advocate.
Here’s what you need to know: In the August issue of Contour, Eddie Ramirez’s article, “ASDA resolution adds undocumented students to sensitivity and diversity policy,” dives deeper into the policy and the discussion of the resolution. To summarize the revised E-4 statement, schools need to accommodate and support their diverse students. ASDA stands behind our diverse students and applicants, regardless of their background or the law. The resolution was written especially to support dental students and applicants who are undocumented immigrants. Many of these students are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This means they were brought to the United States as children by parents who were illegal immigrants. As Ramirez states, ASDA’s, “goal is to show hopeful applicants, from whatever background, that they can pursue a health care career.”
Why is the important? Many immigrants who apply for dental school are not considered for admission, regardless of application strength. These students may be the best and brightest, but dental schools throw away their applications based on immigration status. This is a powerful example of how ASDA policy can support member needs amid current events. ASDA policy is a representation of what more than 90 percent of dental students believe. Members can use this policy to speak to their schools and lawmakers.
Some recent developments from the White House: By now you have probably heard about the controversial travel ban that was enacted in January. The ban was halted in February after U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart ruled it unconstitutional. A revised ban was enacted June 30 preventing citizens of six countries (Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen) from obtaining visas. These same people could obtain a visa if they had a parent, sibling or child legally living in the United States. Visas may also be granted if the person has documentation of employment or admission to a school. The same visa requirements hold for refugees from these countries. The ban prevents prospective students from attending dental school interviews. It also prevents relations such as grandparents, which can be a vital support system to many students, from obtaining visas. This portion is currently being debated in courts.
The Trump Administration is looking to change immigration legislation. On Tuesday, President Trump fulfilled his campaign promise of disbanding the DACA program. Trump stated, “There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will.” The new ruling gives Congress six months to pass legislation before DACA recipients lose protection. Politics aside, this affects our fellow dental students. With an uncertain future, students like Eddie may have to worry about deportation on top of the worries of dental student life. DACA recipients whose eligibility will expire within six months may apply for renewal until October 5. This allows them almost two years of DACA status after the program phases out. However, for those with permits that end after March 5, 2018, there is no opportunity for renewal. These recipients may no longer be able to apply for work visas, leaving them unemployed following dental school.
Where politics and ASDA intersect: With DACA terminated, it allows for the possible deportation of nearly 800,000 individuals. Some of the potential deportees may be your dental school colleagues. To me, this goes against ASDA’s stance on diversity. ASDA policy is created by your elected dental students. It is there to be used by you to advocate for your fellow students.
Follow the link for more information on ASDA’s E-4 policy
~Emma C. Roy, Marquette ’18, Districts 6-7 legislative coordinator