University president rejects student demands for sanctuary campus

Southern Illinois University

(via Southern Illinois University)

Randy Dunn, the president of Southern Illinois University (SIU), has rejected a resolution from the University’s Student Government that would have designated SIU’s Carbondale campus as a “sanctuary campus” for illegal immigrants.

Back in December, members of the campus community issued a petition demanding that SIU be designated as a “sanctuary campus” for “undocumented immigrants, their families, and related community members,” citing the immigration and border security proposals of President-Elect Donald Trump.

SIU President Dunn promised to review the resolution, but advised students that such a resolution would need to be applied to all of SIU’s campuses, including Carbondale, Edwardsville, and the medical school in Springfield.

The resolution was formally rejected by President Dunn and school administrators last week.

In a press release announcing their decision, administrators noted that “the concept of a sanctuary campus is not clearly defined in any legal sense, adding that the designation suggests that the university would be willing to violate the law. Doing so would put SIU and all of its students at risk, including the potential loss of federal financial aid.”

It is also worth noting that the students went beyond asking the school to accommodate undocumented students, and sought to include family members and community members as well. While the petition offered no specifics as to how the university would protect these individuals, it would seem to give the impression that any illegal immigrant who makes it on to SIU property would be free from legal action.

Many college administrators have openly embraced President Obama’s executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides a 2-year permit without fear of deportation for children brought to the United States illegally, by calling for an extension of the program under President Trump.

However, only a few have decided to designate themselves as a “sanctuary campus.” While Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania chose to adopt the label, their fellow Ivy League member Brown University rejected the label, saying that it would be “irresponsible to promise protections that we cannot legally deliver.”


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