Frontera Fund News

What Students Want Their “Campuses as Sanctuary” to Offer

DREAMers Celebrate Driver License Victory. Photo Credit: Lamp Left Media.
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Photo credit: Lamp Left Media.

Many members of the community responded enthusiastically when several presidents of universities and colleges nationwide released statements vowing to protect undocumented students called DREAMers. 

By Dec. 15, 2016, more than 550 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the U.S. have signed statements in support of DREAMers.

I can tell the response was very positive since our Frontera Fund post on Arizona State University president Michael Crow’s statement to protect DREAMers was well received just before Thanksgiving.

The movement to reassure students that they will be protected from immigration enforcement on campus came as a reaction to Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President on Nov. 8, 2016. His campaign promises of a “deportation force” chilled the mood among immigrants and their advocates.

It is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 225,000 undocumented college students in the United States. Most of them have received a reprieve from deportation under President Obama’s program called DACA.

Student leaders were grateful about the statements, but knowing the realities of politics, they are also demanding universities and colleges spell out clearly what type of protections they are offering.

Smart young people.

The National Immigration Law Center is suggesting colleges and universities add this specific language to the declarations.

Colleges should be:

Limiting the sharing of student and family information with federal immigration authorities

Restricting immigration agents’ access to campuses

Prohibiting campus security from collaborating with federal immigration authorities

Providing resources and information for immigrant students and their families

Young immigrants want educational institutions to take more proactive measures to support them. Painfully, only 49 percent of undocumented immigrants between 18 and 24 have attended college or university, compared with 71 percent of all U.S. residents in this age group, due to the extreme hardship that comes with their situation.

Universities and colleges should facilitate the access of undocumented students to higher education to harness the power of smart, U.S.-educated young people.