Executive Vice Provost and Dean of Students: Update on Support for UChicago's International, Undocumented and DACA students and scholars

To:  Members of the University Community
From:  Sian Beilock, Executive Vice Provost, and Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University
Date:  April 3, 2017
Subject:  Update on Support for UChicago's International, Undocumented and DACA students and scholars

Dear Colleagues,

At this time of continued uncertainty for many of the international, undocumented and DACA-eligible members of our University community, we write to provide (a) an update on steps UChicago is taking to support those individuals who may be affected by recent developments on immigration, and (b) additional information on available resources.

We have held several discussions with University community members and are grateful for their input. Based on these conversations, Dean Rasmussen and representatives from student groups such as the University of Chicago Coalition for Immigrant Rights (UCCIR) are meeting regularly to ensure that the University is aware of ongoing and emerging concerns and effectively communicating information about resources and services through multiple channels, including print and web materials.

We also want to remind you of the array of resources already available to students and scholars from those communities impacted by recent governmental actions.

Deans-on-Call. The Dean-on-Call program is a longstanding resource for UChicago students. If a student is experiencing a travel or immigration-related emergency and needs to speak with a Dean-on-Call, they should phone 773.834.HELP (4357). Deans-on-call receive extensive training on various issues such as intercultural competency, trauma-informed response and support, Title IX, de-escalation and mediation. We are reviewing Dean-on-Call protocols to ensure that support for undocumented and international students is consistent, up-to-date and maximally accessible for this population.

Mental Health Support and Resources. The University is coordinating a number of resources tailored to addressing the current needs of students. These include:

  • Biweekly therapy. Students can attend a biweekly therapy group for undocumented students, led by certified clinicians experienced in working with undocumented and immigrant communities. No student attendee information is collected or recorded at these sessions. For more information, contact Devon Moore at 773.702.4537 or Ronnie Rios at 773.834.2833.
  • The Student Counseling Service (SCS) offers a wide array of services, including individual and group counseling; psychiatric services; and referrals to off-campus treaters who specialize in working with undocumented and immigrant communities.  Further information can be found at: https://wellness.uchicago.edu/page/services-students#overlay-context=page/our-services. To make an appointment, call 773.702.9800

Legal Support and Resources. The University is making available resources to support students’ legal needs. These include:

  • Know Your Rights workshop. On April 17, 2017, the University will host its second Know Your Rights workshop. At this workshop, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) will provide information on safety planning for members of our community who are undocumented and DACAmented. Please check undocumented.uchicago.edu for details about the program.
  • DACA fees and other immigration-related legal expenses. The University is taking steps to facilitate the referral process for obtaining legal assistance and provide financial support to cover the cost of application and renewal fees for DACA as well as other eligible immigration-related legal expenses. Students in need of legal assistance and related financial support should contact Ronnie Rios at 773.834-2833.

We are committed to helping students who have been admitted to the University successfully continue in their academic program and complete their degree. If warranted by changes in federal policy and/or law, financial and other arrangements will be made with impacted students on a case-by-case basis, as each student’s situation is distinct. Students with questions or concerns about their ability to continue with their degree program should meet with their area dean of students.

The University, through the Office of International Affairs, Office of Federal Relations in D.C., and Office of Legal Counsel, among others, has been closely monitoring changes in federal immigration policies.  Federal Relations has been engaging with congressional representatives to convey the University’s interests in welcoming, supporting and retaining students and scholars regardless of their national origin or immigration status. 

The University also has been involved in the recent legal challenges to the executive orders concerning immigration. On Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, the University joined with peer institutions in filing an amici curiae (“friends of the court”) brief in Darweesh et al. v. Trump et al., a federal court case challenging the executive order issued on Jan. 27, 2017, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” and on Friday, March 31, 2017, the University, along with other institutions of higher education, filed an amicus brief in International Refugee Assistance Project et al. v. Trump et al., a federal court case challenging the March 6, 2017 executive order, which replaced the Jan. 27 order.

The Office of International Affairs (OIA) has created a webpage to post updates regarding federal actions affecting immigration, provide guidance to members of the University’s international community and post links to other relevant information such as upcoming events and prior University messages. In early March, OIA sent a targeted communication to the academic and administrative units about changes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service made to the Premium Processing program for H-1B visas that will take effect on April 3. We urge anyone seeking assistance or advice on this change or any other aspect of international travel to contact the Office of International Affairs (773.702.7752international-affairs@uchicago.edu).