After reading multiple statements from college and high school administrators on their proposed support of DACA students, The Vanguard interviewed Head of School Rebecca Upham and compiled her responses here on how our school would support DACA students.
“BB&N doesn’t ask people to prove their citizenship [on their school application]. If a student does not currently reside inside the U.S. and is trying to enter for educational purposes, then they are required to have an I-20 visa. We have the authority to sponsor and renew I-20 visas annually, which are issued by the government. We currently have a handful of Middle School and Lower School students on I-20 visas. To be able to sponsor I-20 visas, the entity [BB&N] has to itself have an I-19 visa clearance, but we don’t go around asking for citizenship papers…If there was an undocumented student who didn’t report their status, we wouldn’t know and wouldn’t need to know.
“For anyone who is undocumented, it’s well worth their while to consult with a special attorney about what, when, and where they need to report details on their status. I would want them to get really good advice and to be as protected as they possibly can.
“The school does have access to a network of people and professionals. We would be most helpful to an undocumented student by leaving the student unidentified and putting feelers out in our community for legal counsel that is well respected in the immigration field. We have many community members that I know would welcome being tapped. It can be really daunting when you’re trying to figure out if you need counsel.
“If a student came in and they said, ‘I’d really like some help. I’m not certain if I’m undocumented, and I don’t know how this is going to affect my college applications,’ we would also, without identifying that student, put in some calls to make certain about how different colleges and universities are going to handle it.
“We’d also say that we wouldn’t know what the right process is to avoid giving you advice that might be faulty or that might inadvertently lead to disclosures down the line that could impact your life path. Ideally, we’d help connect [undocumented students] to a community of other DACA students, but I think in this day and age that’s really risky. I’m sure there’s a way to do it that stays in the shadows, and I’d hope that would happen, but to protect the student, BB&N would not want to get involved in that to keep it as off record as possible.
“If anyone ever wanted to make suggestions about how the administration can do better on this issue, the school would welcome that. This issue can be terrifying to ask about, so I’d even welcome anonymous [suggestions].”