We, the undersigned members of the CUNY community, urgently call upon you to take immediate steps to make all CUNY colleges and schools into sanctuary campuses for any students, faculty, staff, and their families who may face deportation under President-elect Trump’s proposed policies.
Trump has vowed to revoke President Obama’s executive actions, particularly those concerning immigration reform, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants reprieve from deportation and authorizes undocumented youth to lawfully work. Trump has also proposed to create a dedicated task force that will focus on detaining and deporting undocumented residents.
CUNY is the largest urban university in the United States, and New York City is the leading port of entry for immigrants into the United States. The CUNY system plays a vital role in bringing immigrants into the fabric of the city and in enriching the cultural life of the city as a whole. As Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said at a news conference, the city is not going to “tear families apart” and cooperate with anti-immigrant policies without putting up a “real fight.” In keeping with the Mayor’s stance on the issue, and given the threat that Trump’s proposed policies pose to students, faculty, staff, and their families, it is imperative that our university take immediate and concrete steps to protect them by becoming a sanctuary campus.
According to a 2011 internal memo from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), immigration officers are subject to specific restrictions, such as entry into places of worship, hospitals, and school and university campuses. We thus implore you to implement the following steps in order to protect CUNY students, faculty, staff, and their families:
‣ Adopt a resolution that actively bans ICE and other immigration enforcement officials from all CUNY campuses;‣ Refuse to share sensitive immigration information and prevent immigration officials from accessing said information without prior, explicit consent from the individual concerned;‣ Instruct the university security and police force to not act on behalf of ICE and other immigration enforcement agents;‣ Issue a public statement that urges state and federal governments to protect students, faculty, staff, and families from deportation, and calls for a path to permanent residency and citizenship for students, faculty, staff, and families.
During last year’s budget negotiations, when funding for the Dream Act was in jeopardy at the legislative level, you spoke to the New York State Legislature, reminding them that “CUNY has been the place of first resort to so many talented New Yorkers, to successive waves of immigrants, to the first in their families to attend college and now to many of their children.” Once the budget included full funding for the implementation of the Dream Act, you released a statement highlighting that such opportunities are part of the reason why “CUNY continues to be the pathway to the middle class for so many immigrant, first generation and low income New Yorkers.”
If CUNY is to continue to serve as a pathway for the immigrant, first generation, and low-income New Yorkers who form an essential part of our community, then it is critical that the university stand behind its values of diversity and accessibility and protect them against the threat of deportation.