The movement to make college campuses into sanctuaries for undocumented students is growing, with walkouts and sit-ins taking place around the country on Thursday.
Students and faculty in Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Washington state held protests to support the #SanctuaryCampus movement, asking their universities to refuse voluntary information sharing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), block the agency’s access to any private university land, and prohibit discrimination against any students without documentation. At least 28 schools have agreed to become sanctuary campuses since protests began last month.
President-elect Donald Trump has promised to deport 2-3 million immigrants in his first 100 days in office, and his national security adviser Kris Kobach has said the administration would hit the ground running to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Meanwhile, hate watch groups reported an escalation in crimes against minorities in the weeks after the election. The #SanctuaryCampus movement, organized in large part by the immigrant advocacy organization Movimiento Cosecha (Harvest Movement), is a response to what many see as an imminent threat to their fellow students’ safety.
“I have no illusions about the danger a Trump administration presents immigrants, and I’m walking out with my classmates because our universities have a moral responsibility to ensure all students and campus workers are shielded from the threat of deportation,” said Miriam Zamudio, an undocumented student at Rutgers New Brunswick.
“Even though Trump threatens to tear our communities apart, I know that by standing together we can form a circle of safety and protection for immigrants in our country,” Zamudio said. “With #SanctuaryCampus we’re demanding universities pick which side they’re on. Do they want to protect our classmates and our communities, or let Trump normalize deportations and hate crimes?”
Trump will also have the power to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a law that gives temporary protection and work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought the country as children. DACA was put into place after campaigning by young activists known as Dreamers, a reference to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a proposal to grant conditional residency to undocumented youth. In coming weeks, high school students are also expected to join the campaign.
Thais Marquez, an undocumented student and organizer with Movimiento Cosecha, said, “Immigrant youth who had a dream fought for and won DACA against all odds, and our communities won’t be intimidated by Trump even as he threatens to take it away.”
The #SanctuaryCampus campaign is also asking American citizens to recognize that the U.S. economy relies on immigrant labor “and that all Americans have the ability to draw a line in the sand and stand up against scapegoating and dangerous policies in our universities, our churches, our community centers, and everywhere else in America,” Movimiento Cosecha said.
Marquez continued, “We’re calling on our classmates and our neighbors to stand for what’s right and grow a network of support for immigrants on our campuses and beyond. Millions of immigrants do crucial work that makes the American economy run, and we need the support of our country’s churches, community centers, and homes as places of sanctuary against deportation too.”
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