In the wake of last month’s presidential election, petitions have cropped up at countless U.S. colleges and universities demanding that the campuses flout federal law and become ill-defined sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.
The presidents of at least three schools — Wesleyan University, Reed College and Portland State University — have announced that they will do all they can to defy U.S. government efforts to enforce immigration law, and will forthwith do all they can to become “sanctuary campuses” for students who are illegal immigrants, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The president of Princeton University, Christopher L. Eisgruber, has taken a different tack, observing in a campus-wide letter in recent days that the concept of the “sanctuary campus” “has no basis in law, and that colleges and universities have no authority to exempt any part of their campuses from the nation’s immigration laws.”
Eisgruber explains that he strongly endorses the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an immigration policy instituted by President Barack Obama which prevents the deportation of certain immigrants who are illegally in the United States if they are enrolled in schools. Many of these immigrants arrived in the United States as children. They had zero say in the matter and now have very little connection to their native countries.
The Princeton president calls DACA “wise, humane, and beneficial.” “It enables law-abiding young people who have grown up in the United States to develop their talents and contribute productively to this country, which is their home.”
At the same time, Eisgruber notes that the United States is a nation of laws, not elite opinions about laws.
“In a country that respects the rule of law, every person and every official, no matter what office he or she may hold, is subject to the law and must respect the rights of others,” he writes.
Princeton “could put immigrant students at greater risk, if we suggest that our campus is beyond the law’s reach,” Eisgruber also counsels.
Other Ivy League schools are handling the prospect of immigration reform differently.
Just before Thanksgiving, for example, the provost of Columbia University announced that his $70,772-per-year school will make itself a haven for illegal immigrants and will attempt to thwart federal efforts to enforce immigration law. (RELATED: Columbia University Declares Itself A Sanctuary Campus For Illegal Immigrants)
“First, the University will neither allow immigration officials on our campuses without a warrant, nor share information on the immigration status of undocumented students with those officials unless required by subpoena or court order, or authorized by a student,” the provost, John Coatsworth, said in a statement. “The experience of undocumented students at the College and Columbia Engineering, from the time they first seek admission through their graduation, will not be burdened in any way by their undocumented status.”
Coatsworth added that the fancypants New York City school would also plan on offering special financial aid to illegal immigrants so they can continue to attend class even if they lose the ability to work due to federal regulations.
Over 700,000 people have been able to avoid any possibility of deportation under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.