Universities exploring 'sanctuary' status for immigrants

2016-12-04 11:53


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Albuquerque - Universities and colleges in several states are considering labelling themselves "sanctuary campuses" amid fears from immigrant students and pressure from activists following the election of Donald Trump.

College administrators in New Mexico — the state with the highest percentage of Latino residents— are looking into proposals that would grant immigrant students living in the country illegally protection while they pursue their studies.

Meanwhile, advocates in California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas are pressing their state and private universities to provide sanctuary to these immigrant students, known as DREAMers.

Federal agents

"We urge you to declare the University of San Diego a sanctuary campus for students, faculty, staff and community members now facing, among other things: the threat of deportation under President-elect Donald J Trump's policy proposals and the spectre of hate speech and bigoted violence in our campus community," read a letter from alumni to administrators of the private Roman Catholic university.

Trump's alma mater — the University of Pennsylvania — even has renewed its pledge to block federal agents without a warrant from removing students in the country illegally.

"Let us be unequivocally clear: We are and remain resolute in our commitment to Penn's undocumented students and will do all that we can to ensure their continued safety and success here at Penn," University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and other administrators earlier wrote in a letter.

Students and professors at University of Illinois campuses are circulating petitions to make their schools sanctuary campuses. One such group in Chicago gathered more than 1 700 signatures and turned them over to school leaders.

A Nevada education philanthropist also is pushing for UNLV, College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College to declare themselves sanctuary campuses.

The movement comes after Trump promised to end an executive order that granted temporary status to immigrant students living in the country illegally. During his campaign, he also promised to launch a "deportation force" and withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.

Trump has not said anything about sanctuary campuses.

Still, New York's Columbia University this month announced plans to offer sanctuary and financial support to immigrant students. And last month, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said the Connecticut school would be a sanctuary campus and would not voluntarily help the federal government deport students.

Attend college

While on the campaign trail in March, Trump abruptly cancelled a scheduled campaign rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago amid spirited student protests.

If Trump ends the program launched by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the status of immigrant students will vary by state. Some states do not allow students living in the country illegally to attend college at in-state tuition rates.

However, state colleges in New Mexico allow immigrants suspected of living in the country illegally to attend at the in-state tuition rate. The state also lets the same students access financial aid if they graduate from a New Mexico school and maintain a high grade-point average.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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