Mayors and local leaders aren’t the only ones mobilizing to protect undocumented immigrants in the face of an upcoming Donald Trump Presidency.
Across the nation, immigration advocates and allies are rallying and calling on colleges and universities to adopt measures that would protect undocumented students and others.
In California, the nation’s largest four-year public university system has reaffirmed its commitment to not work with federal immigration officials to help deport undocumented students.
California State University Chancellor Timothy White “said CSU police will not honor requests from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold people suspected of being in the country illegally,” according to Buzzfeed. “He also said school police would not contact, detain, question, or arrest someone because they are suspected of being undocumented.”
Students, faculty and others at many colleges this week called on administrators to designate their schools “sanctuary campuses,” in some cases pushing the idea with walkouts or other demonstrations, and in others, meeting with administrators to talk about it. A student at Pomona College, Xavier Maciel, collected petitions from dozens of colleges, after seeing faculty at his school start one. While his immigration status is legal, his sister is in the DACA program as a student at Rutgers and his parents are undocumented immigrants who have lived here 22 years. “This movement is important to me because it involves helping and securing the safety for my community,” he said. “Sanctuary provides a safety net and demonstrates public commitment to vulnerable students …”
At Harvard, faculty members wrote a letter published in the Harvard Crimson, asking the administration to take certain steps, including denouncing hate speech, responding concretely to a student petition asking for more support for undocumented students, declaring the university a “sanctuary campus,” reaffirming current admission and financial-aid policies regarding those students, protecting student privacy by refusing to release information about citizenship status, and making it “clear that Harvard will use all legal and practical means at our disposal to protect all members of our community in the months and years to come.”
In about 24 hours, more than 35o faculty members had added their support; Henry Louis Gates Jr. was one of the first to add his name.
Harvard President Drew Faust also issued a letter to the campus community Tuesday afternoon, which included these thoughts: “We must condemn and resist hatred, intimidation, and intolerance in every form. Working together, we have an obligation to provide all members of our community with an environment in which they can live in safety and dignity.”
At Princeton, students have organized a walkout Thursday afternoon to call on the administration to make it a “sanctuary campus.”
“Princeton must take a stand against the hate and violence that Trump has incited,” they wrote in a social media post promoting the event. “ … We cannot let Princeton be neutral in a time of such danger and urgency to our communities.”
A spokesman for the university said the administration has been discussing the issue with students, but no decision has been made yet.
Brown University’s president, Christina Paxson, and provost responded to petitions with a letter published in the Brown Daily Herald Wednesday expressing “deep empathy and desire to protect members of our community.” She wrote about efforts already underway to increase support for students enrolled in DACA, and how Trump has promised to rescind DACA and other executive orders. “Brown will continue to support members of our community to the fullest extent possible while complying with the law,” she wrote.
Students and allies held further demonstrations at dozens of other schools, Tufts, New School, Rutgers, and Columbia. The hashtag #SanctuaryCampus has been capturing scenes from campuses across the nation.