Undocumented Students Lead a Nationwide Call for Sanctuary Campuses

Young protestors with raised fists and protest signs
December 02, 2016
Alexandra Wagner

In the wake of president-elect Donald Trump’s victory last month, many undocumented students and allies issued demands for “sanctuary campuses” which has deep roots in the solidarity movement of the 1980s to protect Central America refugees. The movement drew on Judeo-Christian principles of “sanctuary” which relied on churches and synagogues as a place of refuge.

The current calls for sanctuary are multi-faceted, and include demands to do as much as possible to resist cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as calls to create lines of financial aid for students who will in all likelihood lose their DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, as well as many other undocumented students left out of the now embattled program. President-elect Donald Trump and his restrictionist advisors have promised to end DACA on day one of the new administration, and are now calling for immediate deportation of 2-3 million undocumented immigrants labeled “criminals.”

The sanctuary movement has gained traction. Pomona College has led a call for the preservation and expansion of DACA. The chancellor of the California State University system has agreed that the 23 campus system “will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security, or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law.” University of California Merced administrator Alejandro Delgadillo is in favor of declaring UC Merced a Sanctuary Campus, citing student fear to visit campus because they are afraid of confrontation with an immigration officer and subsequent deportation. Other campus administrators are considering this option due to current students’ condemnation of their university’s “extreme lack of care” toward Hispanic students. 

Additionally, as of 2016 there are over 200 US cities that are designated as Sanctuary Cities in the United States. Although Trump has vocalized his plans to cancel federal funding to all Sanctuary Cities, including New York and Washington D.C., the present widespread push for Sanctuary Campuses offers a glimmer of hope. The fight is far from over.