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News Stories

Statement by SUNY Erie President Dan Hocoy, Ph.D. in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

Article by: Dan Hocoy, Ph.D.

It is our mission at SUNY Erie Community College that all members of our faculty and staff are committed to meeting the educational needs of a diverse student body—regardless of background, class or citizenship—through the creation of programs and a campus environment that supports diversity, inclusive excellence, and global perspectives.

This is what we do as a welcoming college community: offer learning and training opportunities to anyone who seeks them. We are an integral educational entry point for many members of Western New York’s burgeoning immigrant and refugee community, and their children. We provide career training to new residents seeking a better life for their families; and our classes can be the first step for foreign-born residents intent on pursuing a piece of the American Dream.

These facts are reason enough to support our country’s Dreamers, those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We, as SUNY Erie, stand firm with our SUNY partners in backing these students’ intent to live and learn in this country, and for me, this unwavering support is both professional and personal.

Professionally, it is our central focus at SUNY Erie, as an open access institution, to steer any student to a better life through the benefits of education. Our devoted instructors conduct courses on site and off for students currently protected under DACA. And whether inside our classrooms, through our Pathways program, or at satellite locales via essential partnerships with the Buffalo Public Schools and local refugee-focused organizations like Journey’s End, we are educating the next wave of American citizens.

Thanks to their efforts, we have helped thousands from more than 50 countries, young men and women, currently part of the vibrant diaspora that is the next generation of Buffalo Niagara.

Personally, I am the son of immigrants who spoke no English. I remember going to school and having to gesture with my hands to indicate my need to go to the bathroom. I quickly learned English and began translating for my family, including the federal tax return when I was no more than eight years old. My maternal grandmother, who raised me, is from Jamaica; my father is from China and my mother is from Malaysia and both worked multiple jobs for us to survive. My sister and I were born in Trinidad and Tobago, and throughout our lives, education was the great equalizer. It delivered us from unfamiliar territory to places we grew to support and cherish—places that eventually became home.

As there was a time when I myself was undocumented in this country, these students protected under DACA are no different from me or other immigrants who came to America for a better life, and are now contributing to the country’s thriving existence. They need to be protected, and as the leader of SUNY Erie, they need to know that we stand with them.

We encourage all concerned parties to contact the college’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Student Support Center at (716) 851-1079, or visit SUNY’s recently established website at www.suny.edu/immigration, which provides students and their families with current information on Federal Policy and available resources.

In the meantime, know that we, at SUNY Erie, embrace both our college’s and country’s diversity as a strength. We will remain vigilant in our commitment to our past, present and future students, those who seek a brighter future through higher education.

This mission is an unwavering element of our college, just as those protected under DACA are an essential part of the United States and a resurgent Western New York.


Dan Hocoy, Ph.D.

President of Erie Community College