Letters to the Editor

Our Reader: Syracuse University should ‘go above and beyond’ to protect undocumented students

As a nation, we are seeing xenophobic and divisive rhetoric manifest into harmful action against many. What was just words a few months ago has turned into an intolerable reality many students in our community are endangered by. Last semester, Chancellor Kent Syverud did not minimalize this rhetoric and its potential carnage. Rather, he took the initiative to sign a letter with 600 other higher education leaders who agreed that upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was a matter of “moral imperative” and “national necessity,” not of “financial implications.” In other words, Chancellor Syverud saw it justified to support a sanctuary campus policy.

In similar accord, the Sanctuary Campus movement was birthed to protect undocumented people at institutions like Syracuse University. To understand the movement, we must be clear on what policies can accomplish this goal.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) policy ensures that arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance on “sensitive locations” such as colleges and universities are prohibited without verification from senior officials and planned coordination with a local law enforcement agency. And as previously noted in another op-ed, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) already protects against the sharing of student information, which includes citizenship status.

To be clear: Protections for undocumented students already exist. Chancellor Syverud acknowledged as much in his letter to the student body. Yet students have expressed through conversations, demonstrations and letters that it is not enough to do the bare minimum. If the Syracuse University administration truly feels that students should feel welcomed, safe and supported, then it would seek to go above and beyond.

The SU administration can demonstrate this by prohibiting cooperation with immigration enforcement unless they have a warrant, refusing to use e-verify, offering counseling and legal services related to citizenship status, and treating undocumented students fairly in admissions and financial need. These tangible actions go further than reflection and dialogue on inclusivity. They demonstrate the administration’s commitment to inclusivity in its highest form. This is what “moral imperative” looks like.

Ultimately, what are the financial implications of declaring sanctuary status? The answer is: none. The term “sanctuary campus” has no legal definition. There is no existing law that stipulates the removal of federal funding from institutions that declare sanctuary status. Nor has there been an executive order establishing as much. This begs the question: Why waste time holding a discussion on financial limitations that do not exist?

Marcus Lane Jr.

Student Association General Assembly Member

Sophomore policy studies major

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