Recent developments in Washington, D.C., have prompted considerable reaction on the University’s campus over the past three months, from faculty panels to an Immigration Day of Action. The University has now expanded its efforts beyond Nassau Hall to the U.S. Capitol.
The University recently filed a quarterly report with the Senate disclosing that the University has, for the first time, lobbied on the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The lobbying report was filed in compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, which requires all federal lobbyists to register with the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to increase accountability. It outlines multiple lobbying actions that the University has taken in the past quarter, including a brief note about the BRIDGE Act.
The BRIDGE Act, or Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, is “A bill to provide provisional protected presence to qualified individuals who came to the United States as children,” according to the form.
Joyce Rechtschaffen, University Director of Government Affairs, stated that the University had strongly supported DACA in the past. The program was enacted by an executive order of President Barack Obama, and as such is subject to revision by an executive order or other change of President Donald Trump’s administration. Rechtschaffen said that “once he was elected, the BRIDGE Act and our action were a direct result.” She also called the the act “wise, humane, and beneficial.”
The University is part of the American Association of Universities, through which it learned of the BRIDGE Act’s introduction. Lobbyists from the AAU were present at a meeting with the sponsors of the Act when it was first introduced, Rechtschaffen said. Since then, the University has been involved in educating lawmakers about the importance of the Act, has submitted a statement of support, and has been a part of “efforts to urge President Trump to preserve DACA,” Rechtschaffen said.
The University has taken a stance on immigration issues in other ways as well. In the past few months, University President Christopher Eisgruber ‘83 released an amicus curiae, or ‘friend-of-the-court,’ brief and discussed the importance of immigration for the health of the school in his annual “State of the University” letter.
But this official lobbying goes one step farther, and University students appreciate it.
“I think that the direct support is something students wanted to see and [they] actually want to see more of in the future by the administration,” Ramzie Fathy ‘20 said. Fathy is president of Muslim Advocates for Social Justice and Individual Dignity on campus.
“I was really excited to see that they decided to actually stand up for the immigrant community of Princeton,” Fathy said.
However, some students want to see more.
“The University has taken necessary steps but still has a lot of ways to go,” said Samuel Santiago ’19, president of Princeton Latinos y Amigos. “We as well as different groups on campus call the University and President Eisgruber to basically make Princeton University a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. We’ve been advocating for this after the election for three months now and we will continue to advocate for this, because we believe that it is important for the University to assure its undocumented students that they’ll be protected within the territory of our campus.”
Fathy shared this desire to see more action from the University.
“Usually when the University acts, it acts in the form of a statement,” he said. “Hopefully this is a sign that the University will continue to act more in the future.”
Rechtschaffen seemed optimistic that that would be the case.
“I think the University will continue to lobby very hard both as individuals and with colleagues,” she said.