Penn State Decidedly Supports Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

As University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann announced in an email on Wednesday morning, UPenn is considered a “sanctuary campus,” according to student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“Penn is and has always been a ‘sanctuary’ — a safe place for our students to live and to learn,” Gutmann’s email read. “We assure you that we will continue in all of our efforts to protect and support our community including our undocumented students.”

Universities across the nation have followed suit, supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and declaring their respective campuses sanctuaries. Penn State President Eric Barron signed a letter supporting DACA last week along with numerous university administrators from across the country urging business, religious, and community leaders to call for DACA to be “upheld, continued, and expanded.”

After Barron signed this letter, a group of Penn State students started a petition requesting he and other administrators take action to ensure Penn State remains a safe campus despite national concerns over immigration status and talks of Muslim registry. You can read the 11 steps students asked Barron to take below:

  1. Do all it can to ensure that all students receive a campus, classroom, and community experience free of hostility, aggression, and bullying regarding immigration status, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.
  2. Guarantee the rights of faculty and students to discuss contemporary issues facing imperiled populations, without the threat of curtail, sanction, or penalties.
  3. Invest in faculty and staff training to support undocumented students, as well as other populations imperiled by the current political climate.
  4. Safeguard Penn State as a sanctuary campus that will actively refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids on the campus.
  5. Guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding the immigration status of our students and community members to any government agency.
  6. Assign an administrative office the responsibility for counseling DACA students on their educational situations. Provide free legal counsel for DACA students, and advertise that these are available on a strictly confidential basis.
  7. Refuse Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) physical access to all land owned or controlled by the University.
  8. Prohibit housing discrimination based on immigration status.
  9. Take these measures during the current semester (in other words, immediately) so that DACA students can be assured of institutional support.
  10. In the event of deportation, DACA students will be allowed to complete their degree through online courses.
  11. Unequivocally oppose a Muslim registry. This involves a return of the Bush-era NSEERS, considered an ethical and strategic failure, resulting in unfair targeting of Muslims who are non-citizens as well as U.S citizens.

Wednesday evening, President Eric Barron released a statement in support of DACA. “Penn State has an unwavering commitment to the education of all of our students,” he wrote. “Signing this letter demonstrates our values of equal rights, access and freedom from discrimination, and we look to instill these beliefs in our students today, and for the future.”

You can read Barron’s full message below:

Last week, I signed a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) letter together with hundreds of university leaders from across the country urging business, religious and community leaders to call for DACA to be “upheld, continued and expanded.” We understand there are concerns both here at Penn State and across the country about potential changes to DACA, and the University will continue to follow this topic closely.

Penn State has an unwavering commitment to the education of all of our students. Signing this letter demonstrates our values of equal rights, access and freedom from discrimination, and we look to instill these beliefs in our students today, and for the future.

Every Penn State student has earned the right to be here through their academic achievements and hard work, and is free to express their opinions with equal protection. Many DACA beneficiaries are outstanding contributors not only to our university but also to our country. These individuals have pursued opportunities in countless areas including business, education, technology, medical and legal, and continue to make a positive economic and social impact on our society.

Penn State is a welcoming and inclusive university that strives to create an environment where everyone can teach, learn and live in safety and comfort.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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