DePauw Lives and the Need for Safety: A Sanctuary Campus

DePauw Lives and the Need for Safety: A Sanctuary Campus

I had the pleasure of interviewing junior, Margaret (Maggie) Rocha and senior, Nancy Huynh, two students who have been meeting with President McCoy to talk about what a sanctuary campus is and how it impacts our campus. Many students on campus do not know what a sanctuary campus is or what a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student is. This article is helpful for those who are trying to learn more information about this movement. They also update us on where we are currently on the push for a sanctuary campus and how their talks have been with President McCoy.

Me: What is a sanctuary campus?

Nancy: Basically, it means that if ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) were to come on campus and ask for the undocumented students, DePauw would not comply with immigration authorities without a warrant. In the city, ICE can’t just go in an raid city, homes, work places, without proper legal material and a sanctuary campus would work the same way. It’s different for our campus because we have city lawmakers and police and Greencastle is not a sanctuary city. We are asking for the campus to limit its cooperation with Ice and not release information unlawfully. We want DePauw to protect undocumented students.

Maggie:  It’s the protection of students under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) so that they do not face deportation. DACA students have to reapply every two years for deferred action from deportation because they don’t have a legal citizenship status. If ICE were to take the students away and deport them, their licences could be revoked, their work permits would be non-existent, and they won’t be able to study. If DACA is revoked, the students are no longer protected, and every student has basic human right for education.

Me: What does it mean to be an undocumented immigrant?

Nancy: I’m not an undocumented immigrant myself, but it would define a person in constant fear of being uprooted from their home and being deported, causing more anxiety in their daily life. Citizenship is a privilege that we often forget we have. That privilege is not there for them.

Me: What are the struggles of undocumented immigrants?

Maggie: They fear being taken away and they are always trying to prepare for the worst of the worst. They have to be prepared for what’s to come. I know because I have aunts and uncles who are immigrants. So I’m in the position of: what can I do here and still to to protect them at home?

Me: What does it mean to support of documented citizens on campus?

Nancy: Sanctuary campus is different for every school. Every school has definition of sanctuary campus but the same theme: safety of students. A sanctuary university will do all it can to protect undocumented students. They will have a place where the school stands with them and their right to an education is incredibly if anything comforting. Even if even we don’t know what the definition is right now. To know that the school stands with them and their right to an education would be comforting at the least.

Me: How does a sanctuary campus change the atmosphere at DePauw?

Nancy: It would give room for discourse and conversations. It would not affect those privileged unless we started talking about pell grants, and if we don’t delve into the legality of sanctuary campus. The fact that we’re standing in solidarity gives voice to the marginalized communities. It makes clear of our value of an academic institution. It shows that we care most about education despite immigration status, who you are, and what you are about. Everyone deserves to learn.

Me: What could life entail under the Trump administration for undocumented citizens?

Maggie: It would mean removing DACA, work permits, and having their licenses suspended. They won’t be able to get an education. DePauw likes to talk about how diverse and inclusive we are. But when it comes to something like this—it shows that we’re inclusive but not that inclusive. We want protection for students and DePauw only seems to care when a specific type of students needs protection. If this is my home away from home, where are you when I need you the most?

Nancy: The DACA Act could be revoked by executive order. Nothing is law. This could really change the lives of so many people. There are 65,000 undocumented students who graduate every year, who apply to colleges, who apply to DACA for renewal. These things could be revoked and the students could be subject to deportation. Their livelihood could change and there’s no policy to overturn this.

Me: How did our campus administration handle this problem?

Maggie: This problem is still in progress. We are making the steps in the right direction. We are working on website to give undocumented students the resources on who to talk to. A sanctuary campus is what students want. McCoy wants to take the necessary steps without declaring DePauw a sanctuary campus. But there is power in naming your oppression. He wants to provide a legal series of workshops without naming it. The community doesn’t feel supported by him because he doesn’t let students know where he stands. Right now, there is no solid answer on if we will or will not be sanctuary campus. He wants to get this sorted out before next semester. There are things for him to consider: if we become a sanctuary campus, federal funding will be taken away.

Nancy: We’ve been working with administration and talking to the faculty. It seems as though the overwhelming majority of students and faculty want a sanctuary campus and the administration has done a lot, especially on the website by making access to information and resources public at the discretion of undocumented students. Not having the fear of being targeted is really important. We are also working on possible classes that could educate our campus on immigration law and a free legal clinic that could provide more information. So the administration is doing well but at the same time, a lot of these students are looking for more than a website. They want a state of support to show that DePauw is with them. It’s a difficult issue because of the legality behind it. If we say we’re a sanctuary campus and that we protect students, we need to define protection and clearly state what the campus can do legally. Progress is there, but we’re still working on definition. I don’t know if that’s fault in the administration.

Me: Are there any final comments that you would like to leave to readers?

Maggie: Were not going to stop. At the end of the day, the struggles don’t stop. The racism and fear still exists. Until our brothers and sisters throughout the nation feel safe, that’s when we will stop.

Nancy: I’m one of the biggest nerds. I love reading Plato and reading in school. I think that no fear should ever hinder your pursuit for knowledge. The right of an education means so much to me. Family-wise, I’ve always been taught that an education is the utmost important thing. This is an ethics question. The matter of a sanctuary campus and safety for students is important because they are in pursuit of knowledge and they should not have to worry about anything else. If you have family problems that freaks you out–but imagine being deported and uprooted from everything you know while pursuing an education. Our value for education is bigger than politics, you know, Democrats or Republican. It’s a value we share. It’s important to look at the situation from this lens.

Author: Kayla Sullivan

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