UI campus examining 'sanctuary' legalities

UI campus examining 'sanctuary' legalities

URBANA — A campus working group is studying the legal ramifications of making the University of Illinois a "sanctuary" for undocumented students, an effort launched earlier this month by faculty at the UI and other colleges across the country.

More than two dozen petitions calling on universities to limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities have circulated on social media since the election of Donald Trump, including at the UI.

UI Chancellor Robert Jones said the university supports undocumented students, but creating a legal safe haven is a much more complex issue.

An administrative working group headed by Associate Chancellor Katherine Galvin will examine the legal and regulatory issues involved, Jones told campus senate representatives Monday.

"We're doing a thoughtful analysis about the implications of this. We understand the issues, but it's not as simple as it may appear to be," Jones said.

The Nov. 13 online petition states that Trump has promised to deport millions of immigrants, build a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico and abolish the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields more than 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.

Among other actions, the petition asks the UI to refuse to release information about the immigration status of students and community members or work with immigration authorities on any deportations or raids; provide confidential help to students who are not citizens; guarantee in-state tuition to students who are Deferred Action Program recipients, and publicize the campus anonymous reporting mechanism for bias incidents.

Jones said he wants to ensure the UI and other universities continue to provide educational opportunities for undocumented students but can't respond to the sanctuary issue until he gathers more facts.

The working group will not make a recommendation but "get all the legal and regulatory options on the table," said interim Provost Ed Feser. It includes representatives of student affairs, La Casa Cultural Latina, the provost's office, the UI Police Department and the Graduate College, among others.

Jones: 'Complicated issue'

Faculty members on Monday pressed the chancellor to take a position on sanctuary soon.

"Campuses across the country are discussing it," said history Professor Mark Steinberg. "Cities have already adopted sanctuary policies. We don't want to be behind in what is becoming an important national discussion."

Steinberg argued that it's an issue of academic freedom as well — not only for undocumented students but Muslim students and faculty and international scholars here on temporary visas.

"We don't know what will happen after Jan. 20," Steinberg said. "The new president has indicated he wants to act very rapidly, so having a set of policies in place" before then is important, he said.

The campus senate's Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Committee is drafting a resolution on "campus climate" that could be considered next week. History Professor Kathryn Oberdeck, who chairs the committee, said it's important to "make at least some statement about the commitment to the security and safe climate for all students and all faculty and staff on our campus."

Jones agreed but said, "Hopefully, you would also agree that it wouldn't be very responsible of me to go out with a statement that I couldn't stand behind legally as well as professionally. It is a complicated issue and we're trying to understand the legal and other regulatory aspects of this before we go too far."

Raju: Cause for concern

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and several hundred other municipalities across the country have declared themselves sanctuary cities, where local police refuse to detain undocumented immigrants who have not committed a crime within the city. Trump has vowed to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

The question is what a public university can do, said Professor Nicholas Burbules.

Galvin said UI police currently don't inquire about immigration status if they stop students, and the campus doesn't have a jail to detain undocumented immigrants.

Student senator Rahul Raju said he knows undocumented students who are "very, very concerned." He cited a recent message sent out by the College of Engineering to its students, emphasizing that they are "part of the Illinois family" regardless of their background.

Feser said nearly all the colleges have sent out similar messages.

A statement of support from the campus would go a long way to reassure students that the administration will provide "backup," Raju said.

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Sancho Panza wrote on November 30, 2016 at 8:11 am

What are "bias incidents" and what happens after they are reported?

jlc wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

Here, this should help answer your question: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=uiuc+bias+incidents

Sancho Panza wrote on November 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, the issue is those websites conflate bias incidents with hate crimes.
Bias incidents seem like speech that the university disagrees with and that the university responds to them with intimidation.

OffTheBusRunning wrote on November 30, 2016 at 9:11 am

From tolerance.org, a bias incident is "conduct, speech or expression motivated, in whole or in part, by bias or prejudice. It differs from a hate crime in that no criminal activity is involved".

Victims of bias incidents are provided a safe space with padded walls, soothing music, and burning incense. They are swaddled in cashmere blankets while being lovingly hugged by volunteers who make cooing sounds to calm the victims triggered, delicate minds. A lead volunteer will calmly and softly recite positive, affirmational quotes from gender-neutral, inclusive, non-patriarchal sources. 

Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

You are correct OTBR...Nothing but the best for our young professional victims...Dealing with daily triggerings and interspersed with perceived wrongs and insults is not an easy task.

vcponsardin wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

One thing is certain--as a professor, I will not be forced into the role of an immigration enforcement officer for Trump's regime.  Period.

ForReal wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

I can't imagine that anyone would be asking professors to be checking IDs at their classroom doors, so settle down.

vcponsardin wrote on November 30, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Of course you can't imagine that--I don't expect a Trump supporter to have the capacity to see that far ahead. Meanwhile, I can imagine it and I'm more than prepared to resist the Trump regime as far as possible.  So, no, I won't settle down.  Better get used to it...

sswanb342 wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Academic elitism at it's finest. Thanks for the ad hom though. Do you really believe you are more intelligent than every single person who voted for Trump?  From which ivory tower do you dispense judgement for the wretched proles?

ForReal wrote on December 02, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Yes. I am clearly too stupid to have that much foresight. I voted for Trump, because that is what dumb people do. Give me a break...

I have two college degrees myself and also work in academia, so screw off. You must be an incredibly kind person though, since your bleeding heart wants to educate the rest of the world on the dime of legal Americans. Good for you. Keep on the good fight resisting the "Trump regime."

ForReal wrote on November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

I don't understand why so many are up in arms about wanting American universities (or other publically funded social services) to go to legal American citizens. Why should my tax dollars be used to support the education of people that are not legally residing in this country? Why should the university accept students who are not legal American citizens and then turn around and deny admission to thousands of legal Illinois residents? 

I don't think it is racist, bigoted, or anything else to expect that people to follow the laws of this country - which includes obtaining legal permission to be in this country.

Citizen1 wrote on November 30, 2016 at 11:11 am

The biggest problem is not targeting universities.  It is the whole "student visa" program at a federal level.  Why, for example, are people on "student visa's" still in the country 15 years later?  Why are time limits on student visa's rarely checked?  Why can't people on "student visa's" be located? 

Citizen1 wrote on November 30, 2016 at 11:11 am

The biggest problem is not targeting universities.  It is the whole "student visa" program at a federal level.  Why, for example, are people on "student visa's" still in the country 15 years later?  Why are time limits on student visa's rarely checked?  Why can't people on "student visa's" be located? 

Rocky7 wrote on November 30, 2016 at 8:11 pm

I respectfuly advise Dr.Jones and the select Senate committee to evaluate the ramifications of such actions for receipt of federal research and other  funding if the campus becomes a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

robby71 wrote on December 01, 2016 at 8:12 am

For foreign students legally present in the U.S. in an F-1 or J-1 visa status and attending the UI, the university is already obligated to share and regularly report a huge amount of information to the federal government through the SEVIS system about those students. That's not going to change and no ``sanctuary" policy could exempt the UI from that requirement. There is also a huge amount of paperwork involved in getting them those visas approved and issued in the first place. (I originally came to the U.S. on an F-1 visa as a graduate student myself, and eventually became a permanent resident and then a U.S. citizen).

But it would be ironic if, by comparison, for the UI students illegally present in the U.S., the university could withhold all information about them completely from the government...