At its February meeting, the board discussed President Trump’s immigration policies and adopted a Safe Haven resolution. As you know, the Trump administration plans to “build a wall” along the country’s southern border and has already begun an aggressive – some would say draconian – enforcement of the laws on undocumented immigrants. A number of such people – including at least several “dreamers” (i.e., people who were brought to the U.S. as children), about whose status Mr. Trump has been ambiguous – have already been deported. Among the deportees, according to reports I have seen, are also any number of people who have broken no laws beyond federal immigration statutes. As a result, several million undocumented immigrants are understandably concerned about whether it will be possible to remain here. Some families have already been tragically divided.
The board was unanimous in its adoption of the “safe haven” resolution, which calls on the SRJC administration to enact policies and procedures that, among other things, prohibit the campus police from questioning or arresting students on the basis of immigration status. The resolution also calls on the college administration to direct all employees not to release any student’s personal information, including immigration status, in the absence of a court order or subpoena.
The safe haven resolution makes clear that it is a reflection of the college’s values, including “equal access for all students.” It also notes that the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Statement of Values and Commitment to Undocumented Students states that “all people have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential … [and] the right to access quality education.”
SRJC has nearly 500 undocumented students, and the new federal policy has created an atmosphere of fear. Applications for financial aid by undocumented students have fallen by approximately 40 percent compared with last year.
SRJC President Frank Chong said the safe haven resolution – because it reflects the college’s status as an “inclusive, diverse” campus whose values include “equal access for all students” – was the board’s most important resolution in the five years he has headed the college. Urging the board to pass it, he said, “It’s really important for us to come forward and be very clear, without ambiguity, [about] what our values are and what’s important to our community. It’s important … to stand firm in our support for students.”
This is an issue close to my heart, since two of my sons are from Kenya, to which one of them often returns to visit with other family members. Even though they both have green cards, our family worries that they might not be allowed to return to the United States. So I have experienced first-hand some of the anguish caused by the new administration’s stringent immigration policy.
I look forward to hearing your feedback on this newsletter – and on any and all questions and concerns you may have about SRJC. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to serve you.
Click here for a copy of the full resolution.