Kerwin announces support for all students in light of DACA uncertainty
AU opposes President Trump’s immigration ban, which affects some undocumented students
AU will not label itself a sanctuary campus, but will actively oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, according to a memo written by President Neil Kerwin on Friday.
“I have concluded that the findings of many other universities and respected immigration attorneys are correct, in that asserting such a status would have no basis in the law,” Kerwin wrote. “The institution does not have the authority to exempt itself from federal immigration law.”
The ban has left many campus community members concerned about the safety of undocumented students who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
DACA, created under the Obama administration in 2012, protects the children of illegal immigrants under U.S. law and allows them to pursue a higher education in the country.
President Kerwin wrote that if the federal program is repealed and authorization for students to work and study in the United States is rescinded, the University will offer “protection to the full extent allowed by law, guided by policies that guard the privacy and safety of every member of the university community.”
AU joins other institutions in the U.S. in “encouraging the president to reconsider the recent executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations,” Kerwin wrote in the memo.
The University will not be labeled a sanctuary campus
Cities around the U.S., including D.C., have adopted the term “sanctuary,” which essentially means that a city, campus or other location does not question the documentation status of individuals or actively pursue them as criminals unless as a part of larger investigations.
In a press conference at the Department of Homeland Security in January, Trump singled out several cities, including the District, Los Angeles and Chicago, as having caused “immeasurable harm” to America, according to the Washington Post. District officials have warned that the city could lose millions of dollars in federal funding by supporting the welfare of undocumented immigrants through local tax dollars.
Kerwin wrote that this term is “counterproductive and [could] lead to greater risk for the very students we seek to protect.” At Harvard University, president Drew Faust said that this designation may bring unwanted attention to affected students on campuses that utilize this terminology, and used the same reasoning as Kerwin that the word “sanctuary” has no legal significance.
While Kerwin is moving to protect undocumented students, it is unclear to AU students how his retirement and the appointment of the new AU president, Sylvia Burwell, will affect these motions.
Kerwin signed three petitions late last year that placed AU on a long list of other colleges and universities nationwide that are defending the rights of their DACA students. Since its founding over four years ago, DACA has helped protect about 728,000 undocumented people in pursuit of their higher education.