Email, Miriam Feldblum, vice president for student affairs, dean of students, professor of politics, Pomona College, Dec. 20, 2016
See my responses below...
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Professor of Politics
From: "Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)"
Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 6:07 PM
To: Miriam Feldblum
Subject: Texas reporter seeking your analysis today
Good afternoon and hello from Texas.
At the suggestion of Mark Kendall,I write seeking your on-the-record analysis and commentary as we fact-check a recent claim by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, pasted below:
“Our university campuses by federal law do not check the immigration status of their students just as our public schools don’t.”
after 8:17 mark of interview by KEYE TV 12/15/16 (in the full interview, smaller video, to right)
The congressman is correct that colleges and universities do not share the immigration status of our undocumented/DACAmented immigrant students with federal or state authorities. We are governed by the federal law, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and under FERPA, that would be considered private information. Here are some FERPA FAQs about immigration documentation. FERPA circumscribes the kinds of information about a student a college or university can release without the consent of the student.
Is this an accurate claim per what universities don’t do and why? That is, does a federal law prevent universities from checking on the immigration status of students? If not, what is at play?
Again, the key law is FERPA. And, we are not asked for that information by the federal government with regard to undocumented or DACAmented students. I do want to note that colleges and universities do provide information on international students here on a visa (students are usually F-1s, but students can also be on J visas, and other kinds of visas) to the federal government through SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor information Program).
Any other recommended resources?
Let me think on this. — I have hyperlinked a few resources.
A wrinkle: Texas universities serve some students lacking legal residency who enroll in part by filing affidavits attesting to individual intentions to seek legal residency when possible. I am attaching an FAQ about the relevant Texas law issued by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Am I reading right that each of the universities with such students would logically be identifying its students lacking legal residency?
This is information that the student is releasing to the college and university or to state authorities — the college and university is not releasing the information without the student’s consent. The university can know about the status of the student in a variety of ways — via the kind of financial aid the student is eligible for, the affidavit the student may have signed due to their state requirements for in-state tuition, etc. eligibility – but there is not a formal tracking system, nor is there any obligation to report the information.
I am trying to get a fix on the accuracy of Doggett’s statement today.
W. Gardner Selby
Reporter / News