Letters to the Editor

Our Reader: Something we all missed about our sanctuary status

Thanks to Donald Trump’s presidential win, college students across the United States have been beseeching their senior administrators to proclaim their institutions as “sanctuary campuses.” For instance, Movimiento Cosecha, a national organization attempting to lead the sanctuary campus movement, has demanded that all colleges and universities refuse “all voluntary information sharing with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement/U.S. Customs and Border Protection across all aspects of the college/university to the fullest extent possible under the law.” The idea of a “sanctuary campus” stems from the idea of a “sanctuary city.”  In theory, sanctuary cities are spaces where city executives strive to shield people who are undocumented from deportation by curbing their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Many undocumented students, primarily the ones who hold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, are fearful that government agencies and educational institutions will make them vulnerable by exploiting their personal DACA information. While the California State University system has publicized that they will stand with undocumented students and will not work with federal immigration officials, universities like Brown have stated that, “While we wish we could offer absolute protection to members of our community who are threatened by possible changes in policy, it would be irresponsible to promise protections that we cannot legally deliver.” Ironically enough, everyone seems to have forgotten that the federal government operates within the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The privacy of all student education records is protected under FERPA. This Act pertains to all educational institutions that receive federal funding. Additionally, the 2011 memorandum from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement states that actions such as arrests, interviews, searches and surveillance must not take place on sensitive locations such as schools, colleges, sites of public demonstrations, and areas of worship. Both, the memo and FERPA, imply that all universities must not share any student information with ICE even when asked, because if they do, they will be in violation of federal law. This conflict between the new “wants” of the Trump administration and the present laws of the federal government automatically brands every college campus, including Syracuse University, as a sanctuary campus.

Sonia Suchak, BA Policy Studies ‘18
Mario Rios Perez, Assistant Professor, Cultural Foundations of Education

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