News Brief: College Adopts New Policy on Undocumented Applicants

Rachel Weinstein, News Editor

Months after journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas spoke on the experience of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the College announced Wednesday that it would now consider undocumented students as domestic candidates for admission. This means that the new policy, unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees earlier this month, considers undocumented applicants U.S. citizens rather than international applicants. The policy reads:

“Oberlin College considers undocumented students as domestic candidates for admission. Students who qualify for “deferred action” and have achieved DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) are particularly encouraged to apply.”

Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Debra Chermonte explained that placing them in the international pool is a “miscategorization” because most undocumented students have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S., have attended U.S. schools and are fluent in English. In an interview with the Office of Communications, Chermonte said, “We have always welcomed applications from undocumented students. But because they are not U.S. citizens, we had, like most colleges, required them to apply as international students. This [new] policy aligns our current practices with the public language we use to describe Oberlin’s policy with respect to undocumented students.”

In 2012, President Obama signed a memo permitting “deferred action for childhood arrivals” for specific undocumented adolescents who have pursued education or civil service. While Oberlin does not require DACA for undocumented applicants, the new policy makes admission to the College more accessible to undocumented students by permitting student employment and safer domestic and international travel.