USC should act as a sanctuary campus


first_imgPresident-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to tighten federal immigration laws and deport millions has left many fearful, wondering what the future holds — whether they’ll be taken from their education, from their families or from their careers. Even before the rise of Trump, sanctuary cities across the United States have historically sought to quell these anxieties. In a sanctuary city, certain policies prevent federal law enforcement from detaining and prosecuting undocumented immigrants. Since the results of Nov. 9, the call to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants has extended to colleges and universities.Last week, an online letter with nearly 3,500 signatures from undocumented students, their family members and staff was presented to University administrators, including President C. L. Max Nikias. The letter’s demand was simple: Make USC a sanctuary campus. Becoming a “sanctuary campus” means that USC will neither allow immigration authorities on campus nor report the immigration status of students, their families or staff, if asked to provide that information.Predictably, the debate over sanctuary campuses has devolved into a partisan issue. This partisanship fails to recognize that providing a safe haven from immigration authorities who are intent on violating the protections afforded to the undocumented is, in fact, a human rights issue. Both the Constitution and human rights law clearly affirm the need for sanctuary campuses, in the absence of a federal government that is willing to protect the rights of the undocumented. Campus petitions, like the one presented to USC administrators last week, have typically included three requests. First, that colleges and universities not share students’ personal information, including their immigration status, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without subpoena. Second, that they prevent immigration authorities from conducting raids on campus without a warrant. And third, that campus police officers refuse to take on the responsibility of enforcing existing immigration law. Upholding these requests indicates respect for privacy laws and Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizures.María Blanco, executive director of the Undocumented Student Legal Services Center, has indicated her belief that, in a court of law, colleges and universities that seek to uphold these requests would be vindicated.“If somebody got sued for what we just talked about—not sharing records which are already protected under existing law and not allowing indiscriminate raids on a campus, or because police refused to enforce immigration law—I’m positive [the plaintiff] would not win their case,” Blanco told TIME this week, suggesting courts would rule in favor of colleges and universities.As well, human rights advocates, like the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, advocate for the rights of the undocumented, including university students. If arrested, undocumented immigrants are often not only arbitrarily arrested and detained, but also denied the right to a fair trial — violations of Article 9, 14 and 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an instrument of international human rights law to which the United States is a party. Every day, immigrants are arrested without a warrant, arbitrarily detained in crowded conditions, and deported without a fair trial.Despite President Barack Obama’s attempts at immigration reform, the aforementioned violations persist. As a Trump presidency looms, one can reasonably assume based on the President-elect’s promises that the United States will continue to violate the human rights of the undocumented. In consideration of what can be done to address this unconscionable disregard for one of the most vulnerable communities, USC must take a stand, setting an example for the rest of the country, by providing sanctuary to all Trojans.Bailee Ahern is a senior majoring in political science and international relations. “’Lend a Hand” ran every Monday.last_img

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