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Growing Number of States, Cities, and Colleges Speaking Up on Behalf of Immigrants

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growing number of states, cities, and colleges continue to step up on behalf of their immigrant constituents, pledging resistance against Donald Trump’s deportation vision and speaking out about the contributions immigrants make in their communities.

Among the latest developments:

The Indianapolis Star highlights how Indiana colleges and universities are speaking out on behalf of Dreamers and DACAmented students:

“More than 500 university presidents, including those from Notre Dame, Indiana University and Purdue University, and 15 mayors have publicly backed the program and have asked political leaders to continue the immigration policy.

…The Indiana Commission for Higher Education doesn’t track how many students are enrolled under the policy, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson. But U.S. Department of Homeland Security data show more than 9,500 people living in Indiana have been approved as of June.

…At its campuses statewide, Indiana University enrolls about 200 DACA recipients, said university spokeswoman Margie Smith-Simmons.

‘Indiana University has long recognized the absolute necessity of a diverse and inclusive community to an excellent education,’ Smith-Simmons wrote in an email statement. ‘All IU students, regardless of their background or country of origin, are welcome in our community. Each and every one brings perspectives and experiences that, taken together, enrich the educational experience and prepare our students to thrive in the 21st century. Our student body expresses who we are as a community and reflects our foundational commitment to inclusion and diversity.’

Purdue President and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels — who, as governor, approved a bill that denied in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students — signed the letter in support of DACA last week. Daniels couldn’t be reached for comment, but Pam Horne, vice provost for enrollment management, emphasized the university’s mission to help all of its students.

… At a prayer service last month, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins reiterated his support for undocumented students. ‘The University will spare no effort to support you, just as we will for every student at Notre Dame,’ Jenkins said. ‘You accepted our invitation to come to Notre Dame, you are now part of our family, and we will do everything we can to ensure that you complete your education at Notre Dame.’”

The Los Angeles Times highlights new comments from Senator-elect Kamala Harris, who pledges that California will be the center for state and local resistance to Trump’s immigration vision and makes the case for why such resistance is so vital:

“Harris said there are ‘two definitions of what it means to be a patriot … There’s one definition that’s just, you defend your country, whatever it does …. And then there’s the kind of patriot I believe us all to be: the kind that will fight each and every day for the ideals of our country … This is not subversive, this is not about anything other than love of country and, in loving our country, fighting for its ideals.’

…Speaking with reporters afterward, Harris said that people had shared stories about the crying children of immigrants and Muslims asking their parents if they were going to be sent away, and that law enforcement officials told her they worried victims of crimes would not report incidents out of fear that the police would turn them over to be deported. Harris also said people were concerned that parents who are in the U.S. illegally were keeping their children out of school and away from pediatricians because they worried about deportation.

‘I feel very strongly that California’s voice must be a voice of leadership in Washington, D.C., on all the issues that we discussed,’ she said. ‘We have an outsized stake in the outcome of the conversation about immigrants … and I feel very strongly that we must defend all people.’”

In an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Immigrants – and those who fight for them – are here to stay,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Make the Road New York’s co-executive director, Javier Valdés, highlight what’s at stake and why it’s so important that New York stand up for its immigrant residents:

“To be clear, Trump’s immigration plan is, at bottom, a plan to tear immigrant families apart. Immigrant communities are understandably scared right now. But Democrats in Congress and grassroots organizations will not let immigrant communities be devastated; we are here to stay.

…Outside the halls of Congress, the immigrant rights movement will play a crucial role in pushing back against the Trump administration’s efforts to vilify and criminalize immigrants. Already in New York, Make the Road New York and its allies rallied 15,000 Latinos, immigrants, and allies in New York to send the message that immigrant communities are here to stay. In the months to come, large-scale protests will continue, as will efforts to lobby legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Front and center in these efforts will be immigrant families themselves—mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents sharing their stories and their dreams. Every day in communities like Jackson Heights, Queens, we see the economic and cultural richness of our phenomenally diverse communities. In our nation’s worst recent moments of anti-immigrant politics—such as when Arizona and other states attempted to enact unconstitutional laws to criminalize immigrants—these personal stories have made the difference in reminding Americans what we stand for: keeping families together and safeguarding opportunities for all.

The American people will not allow President-elect Trump to trample the rights of immigrants or anyone of any other color, race or creed. Democrats in Congress, working with community organizations around the country, will staunchly defend the needs and rights of immigrant families. And we will prevail.”

In Houston, the city’s mayor, police chief, and school superintendent are pledging that Houston will “remain a welcoming city for all.” As local CBS affiliate KHOU highlights:

“Mayor Sylvester Turner says Houston will be the same city after the election as it was before and that the police and court system will always respect constitutional rights.

Houston ISD’s new superintendent said the district is giving out immigration rights fact sheets, helping immigrant students and their parents with the college application process, and they’ve adopted strong anti-bullying measures. They’re also giving teachers the leeway to let students to discuss their thoughts on the election.

‘We want to make sure that this is very clear: election are elections, but safety and learning continues, and you are safe and we want to provide that environment. Public schools are not in the immigration and law enforcement business, so we will never become part of the immigration and law enforcement business,’ Superintendent Richard Carranza, Houston ISD, said.”

The San Antonio Express-News highlights the growing movement in San Antonio-area colleges and universities to support undocumented students and DACA recipients,noting that, University of Texas at San Antonio President Ricardo Romo “and UT System Chancellor William McRaven have joined more than 300 other colleges in signing an open letter defending DACA. The leadership at St. Mary’s University, the University of the Incarnate Word and San Antonio College also have signed the letter.” The story also highlights a local DACAmented student and the impact of DACA on his life:

“Carlos Aguilar, 25, remembers when President Barack Obama signed DACA into law. ‘They said ‘Carlos, watch the TV because something big is going to happen.’ And I saw it on TV and I just started crying. It was like a telenovela. I was crying and crying and so excited,’ said Aguilar, who is getting his master’s degree at UTSA. He moved to Texas when he was 14 because his mother married a U.S. citizen. When Aguilar got DACA status in May 2013, a lot of things changed: He could legally drive a car, hold a job and receive financial aid. He didn’t have to live with the constant feeling that he had something more to fear than his peers did. He didn’t have to keep a secret.

… ‘I thought I was living a double life: the undocumented student who couldn’t work and do this and that, but also the American student whose education system raises him to think he has all the opportunity to achieve the American dream,’ he said. ‘But after that I was like, why can’t I be the same person? An undocumented American?’

If termination of the DACA program did come to pass, its students could be forced to drop out of college — not because they’re not allowed to attend, but because they could lose their ability to pay for school, [clinical assistant professor of law at St. Mary’s University Erica] Schommer said. Without DACA, she said, students might lose their financial aid, might not be able to participate in work-study and would likely be unable to continue any part-time job they have.”

A growing list of local leaders and cities who have voiced their support for immigrants is available here.