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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

March 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: College must declare itself a sanctuary campus

President-elect Donald Trump has made many promises throughout his campaign and during this transition period. One of the most threatening is his promise to deport 23 million undocumented immigrants across the country and revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that provides work visas and protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. These policy positions have caused widespread fear among the undocumented population, particularly the fear of deportation.

At many colleges and universities across the country, a sanctuary campus movement has grown, demanding that administrations take action to protect their undocumented populations. Ithaca College is one of these — a sanctuary campus rally Nov. 16 resulted in hundreds of students signing a petition asking the college to protect its undocumented population, and a recently passed Student Governance Council bill has reaffirmed the importance of declaring the college a sanctuary campus.

The SGC bill is one that should be taken extremely seriously by the college administration. There are undocumented individuals in classrooms and residence halls across this campus who are fearful of their ability to continue living in the U.S. and receive an education.

This fear cannot be ignored. Trump’s promises to revoke DACA and deport undocumented immigrants who have been here since childhood is an infringement on a student’s access and equal opportunity to an education, a right that the college administration must protect. This right to receive an education is one that should not be restricted to certain people due to their current citizenship status if they have been living and working here like any other documented student.

The sanctuary campus movement should move beyond the demands of student bodies and into administrative action. It’s time for college administrations, including Ithaca College’s, to take ownership of this movement and show support for the entirety of its student population.

So far, the administration has been silent on this issue. The administration must respond immediately to the community by taking a stand on the issue. However, issuing a statement alone would not present a meaningful commitment — it must be followed up with direct measures. This administration must not cooperate with the Trump administration’s efforts to deport undocumented immigrants as much as is possible, as anything less continues to leave this community vulnerable and paints the picture of an administration that does not care about one of its most marginalized populations.

The many threats toward undocumented people must be treated with sincerity and action. If the college is truly an inclusive community that welcomes people from any and all backgrounds, the administration should honor this value by recognizing that undocumented students are members of this community who have every right to live and learn on this campus.

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline