Since Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States, some people have rallied for IU to be a “sanctuary campus” where undocumented students are protected from deportation while they are on campus.
IU Provost Lauren Robel said if IU is to become a sancutary campus, it would have to happen through a Board of Trustees action.
The Board of Trustees does support IU’s commitment to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy, which protects those brought to the US without documentation as children from deportation for renewable two-year periods.
“We obviously will support them within the limits of the law, but we do our very best to assure that we’re thinking creatively about all the ways in which we can provide support that are legal,” Robel said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of space there, actually. I don’t think there’s much space between what they ask for and what we have done.”
Robel met with the UndocuHoosiers Alliance on Nov. 28 after they delivered demands on Nov. 16 to her and IU President Michael McRobbie to meet with them and discuss how they will support undocumented students when Donald Trump takes office.
Robel said she thinks the possibility of opposing immigration officials being able to execute immigration law on the IU campus is an unwise step for a number of reasons because of her concern for IU students.
“So, I think the position we’ve taken is we will do everything that is legally within our power to protect our students and we do everything that we do with our students interest in mind, not with political statements in mind,” Robel said.
Robel said despite what has been said on the campaign trail, Trump has already sharpened his statements about immigration on people with criminal records.
“And as you can see from the DACA program, you can’t have done that to be in this program,” Robel said. “We have some reason to be hopeful that the new administration will not be focusing on this program although we have no assurances in any direction.”
There are currently 17 reported DACA students on the IU-Bloomington campus and around 200 at all Indiana University campuses. However, Robel said there are likely more who haven’t identified their status to the University.
“But, we do not know who those people are,” Robel said. “We don’t ask them to identify themselves as undocumented. We don’t seek that information.”
The University currently has resources in place for DACA students. They will also launch a website this week for students, faculty and staff that comprehensively lists University resources.
One of the resources includes counseling for immigration-related issues through the Office of International Student Services.
“We also have a very long list of attorneys who are willing to work with students on immigration matters for free,” Robel said.
The Office of Scholarships also helps aid DACA and undocumented students. Students who are not citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States are not eligible for state or federal financial aid, so the Office of Scholarships looks for private forms of aid through the IU Foundation or other private sources, Robel said.
These resources were outlined in both McRobbie’s statement to the Board of Trustees on Dec. 1 and in a letter sent to the 17 IU DACA students from Robel on Nov. 21.
“So far, we are unaware of students who need help who we haven’t been able to give help to,” Robel said. “I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m just saying we don’t know.”
At the Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 1, McRobbie reminded the Board and those gathered that he, too, is an immigrant. McRobbie has signed a statement, along with 300 other university presidents and chancellors, in support of DACA and undocumented immigrants.
“I have a particularly acute sense of the importance of immigration programs and all those affected by them for I am, myself, an immigrant, as are my three children, through we are all now proud citizens,” McRobbie said.
While the University has recently declared its support for the DACA program, the UndocuHoosier Alliance and Students Against State Violence are continuing to work on making IU a sanctuary campus. The UndocuHoosiers and SASV rallied separately at the Board of Trustees meeting a day prior to McRobbie’s statement.
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