In response to President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to deny federal law enforcement funding to sanctuary cities that don’t comply with federal immigration law, numerous colleges and universities across the country have declared themselves sanctuaries as well. At least 28 higher education institutions have declared themselves to be sanctuary campuses so far.
Sanctuary campuses take their cue from sanctuary cities, cities that attempt to protect their undocumented residents by limiting their cooperation with federal immigration authorities unless compelled by court order and state law.
For American universities, this is unprecedented.
“There has never been large-scale immigration enforcement on U.S. campuses,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, Professor of Immigration Practice at Cornell University told Mashable, citing an article he wrote with Dan Berger.
Since sanctuary campuses are new, it’s unclear whether or not universities would, in fact, be breaking any laws by harboring undocumented immigrants, and what the term harboring even means.
“There are serious and unresolved legal issues about whether federal funding or the ability to operate a student visa could be affected by various pieces of sanctuary campus plans and what role federal law on “harboring” undocumented immigrants plays” Yale-Loehr writes.
Congressman Duncan Hunter of California has sponsored legislation H.R. 6530 that seeks to address this issue. His bill, Sanctuary Campuses: Should Colleges That Don’t Comply With Immigration Law Not Get Federal Funding, has not yet been voted on in Congress.
If the bill passes, a “sanctuary campus” would be defined as any college or university that:
- Has a policy preventing personnel from providing information about immigration status to federal authorities, or blocks compliance with requests for information from the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS);
- Admits or harbors an unauthorized immigrant;
- Provides an unauthorized immigrant with a benefit based on their residence (like in-state tuition) to the same extent that a U.S. citizen would be eligible to receive;
- Has a policy restricting DHS from accessing the campus or students on campuses for recruiting in a manner that any other employer could.
An institution of higher education wouldn’t be considered a sanctuary campus solely based on having a policy that prohibits its staff from reporting an unauthorized immigrant who comes forward as a crime victim or witness.
If this bill is enacted, it wouldn’t take effect for 90 days, so colleges and universities would have time to potentially change their campus policies to comply with this legislation.
The legislation has the support of two cosponsors in the House, both of whom are Republicans.
What do you think about sanctuary campuses? Should they receive tax-payer funds to harbor illegal immigrants? Tell us below in the comments!