Defending DACA

Understanding “Sanctuary” Status

Michael Olivas is a well-known and highly respected immigration lawyer who has worked on many high-profile immigration law challenges and was one of the architects of the DREAM act (the ‘end goal’ of DACA).  He has spent his professional life defending this group, ensuring access to K-12 education (Plyler v Doe), and many other important cases related to the undocumented and migrant farm workers.  Here is a quote from a recent passage:

But the term “sanctuary” is a term that is too fraught with restrictionist meanings or misunderstandings about the difference between “defying the law” or choosing not to implement discretionary practices, for policy, efficacy or other reasons. Worse, it has no legal meaning and the admonitions are vague and impossible to implement, which will only frustrate people more. . . . exacting pledges that cannot be kept will do no one any good. . . . Feel-good actions and solidarity are fine and have an important place in the civil-rights narrative. But I do not hold out hope that the sanctuary proposals will make any genuine change or provide actual sanctuary — whatever that empty vessel means to anyone on either side of the issue. And so I prefer more meaningful actions, such as working with student groups and their supporters: advocacy groups, bar associations, social service agencies, philanthropies and the usual support infrastructures for colleges and communities. The University of Houston Law Center, where I have spent most of my professional life, has stepped up, and my colleagues and law students are providing technical assistance and advice, as have many of my immigration law professor colleagues.”

“Welcoming Campus” Alternative

There is a push for the term “welcoming campus” for several different and compelling reasons.

  • The faith-based history of the term ‘sanctuary,’ is asking for a safe harbor or protection from enforcement, that can create backlash, whereas affirming a welcoming campus wouldn’t.
  • It keeps the discussion within a broader context.

Below is an unedited comment from an advocacy member. Note: he was speaking in support of the term “welcoming campus” rather than “sanctuary campus” as sanctuary campus has not only enforcement connotations but also limits it to associations with just one group, where all vulnerable groups are in need of campus support right now.

4. Lastly, it’s important for educators to understand the broader context of what’s happening.  Minorities of all stripes are feeling extremely vulnerable right now and, I think it’s critical that communities convey a forceful message that they are welcoming of everyone.  Strategically, this creates opportunities for immigrant communities to actively build coalitions with other groups.  Whereas before, so-called “sanctuary cities” were just about immigrants, suddenly sanctuary means protecting racial, religious, LBTGQ and other communities too.  

Suggested University Resources

  1. Add a tab on the University’s admissions website for undocumented students, including:
    • A North Carolina State University commitment that all academically accomplished
      students with higher educational goals can apply for admission, regardless of
      citizenship status;
    • An outline of the application process for undocumented students;
    • Relevant information on tuition in North Carolina and scholarship resources.
  2. Promulgate university resources that are readily available to all students
    • e.g., Student Legal Services and the Counseling Center

Our Student Government Stance

Representatives of the student body you have an important voice in setting the tone in this complex dialogue.  This is a contentious and complex issue; the movement is itself still finding its voice and developing an effective strategy.

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Statement by the APLU

  • NC State is a member of APLU (Association of Public and Land-grant Universities) and sent a letter to President Elect Trump with full endorsement of their entire membership.
  • This is a letter representing all 218 member institutions and Chancellor Woodson as the outgoing board chair was instrumental in crafting the letter in full support.
  • The letter was sent officially to President-elect Trump last Wednesday (11/23/16)

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View the statement online

Additional Reading