A number of Laramie community members are organizing a symposium to educate the public about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on Feb. 24.

The symposium will be free and open to the public and is being sponsored by a number of University of Wyoming programs, including UW’s American Studies Program which is the primary sponsor, as well as UW’s School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice, the Social Justice Research Center and the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research, UW says.

The symposium, which begins at 8 a.m. with coffee and pastries in the UW Conference Center, will include a full day of panels and speakers to discuss DACA. The importance of DACA as well as localized issues such as how UW is responding to DACA and how they are assisting students, the lack of financial aid for DACA students and specific DACA issues in Wyoming.

Jose Rivas, a UW graduate student from Gillette is on the organizing committee for the symposium. Rivas says in a statement that the symposium aims to bring awareness about DACA, and to educate the university campus and Wyoming about the issues surrounding it.

DACA is a policy that allows people who came to the U.S. as minors and either entered or stayed in the country illegally to receive a two-year period of action from deportation and to be eligible for work permits. About 800,000 people are currently enrolled in the program, 900 live in Wyoming. The policy was rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017.

The symposium is timely, organizers say, because when the DACA program was ended, protections were scheduled to end on March 5. Congress was given that time to act to save the program, but court action and the intricacies of the program have made the actual deadline unclear and DACA recipients live in uncertainty.

After the Trump administration announced its decision to terminate DACA, UW President Laurie Nichols issued a response offering support and resources such as legal advice.

“The University of Wyoming is inclusive and committed to nurturing an environment that values and manifests diversity,” Nichlols said in an email to the UW community. “. . . I am honored to belong to a university community devoted to the higher education of all students.”

Nichols said in the email that the university is monitoring developments on DACA and that UW policies about disclosing student records remain the same under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.

Wyoming's congressional delegation has expressed support for ending DACA.

People looking to attend the event are encouraged to RSVP by calling Sophia Beck, American Studies Program and history department office associate at 766-3898 or emailing gipper@uwyo.edu.

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