By Bill Parry
State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst) is urging all SUNY and CUNY school to become sanctuary campuses in order to protect the students, faculty and staff from the looming Trump administration’s plans to effect mass deportations and potentially undo President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Similar to how cities throughout the United States have become “Sanctuary Cities,” prohibiting cooperation with federal authorities attempting to deport undocumented immigrants within the city’s jurisdiction, universities can also protect undocumented students by prohibiting cooperation or the sharing of confidential information, such as a student’s home address, with federal bodies, including the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.
“A student should never be afraid to pursue a higher education out of fear that it may leave them vulnerable to deportation,” Moya said. “To allow an atmosphere in which students are hesitant to enroll in a university or attend their classes contradicts our values as a state of immigrants, it undermines the integrity of our academic bodies. SUNY and CUNY schools must adopt discretion policies and become ‘sanctuary campuses’ so they can never be compelled to divulge information that could put their own students and staff at risk.
“Sanctuary campuses are a very powerful metaphor that expresses both legal protections and reprieve from danger. A student’s immigration status should never be an obstacle in their path to a degree and a better life.”
Moya called on SUNY and CUNY to codify measures that would prohibit all employees of the university system, including faculty, administrators, and campus security, from assisting any federal authorities in the act of deporting undocumented students. In addition, Moya urged SUNY and CUNY schools to also confer protections to DACA faculty and staff.
“There are DACAmented students who have earned their degree and are now giving back by teaching the next class of undocumented students, or working on campus,” Moya said. “They serve as a model, taking lessons they’ve learned and the passions they have, and passing them forward. Protecting the faculty and staff of our universities protects both the quality of every student’s education and the dreams that brought them to academia in the first place.”
Students throughout the nation have organized and urged their respective universities to become sanctuary campuses, including in New York where CUNY Dreamers have rallied to urge the same of CUNY schools. The American Association of University Professors in November came out in support of the movement.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr