In allegiance with its student body and with its Mission, Saint Louis University should declare its campus a sanctuary to all students, including to all immigrants, no matter their status as citizens or not. Since the election, undocumented students across the country have felt less safe, and by declaring its status as a sanctuary campus, SLU would relieve students’ fears of deportation.
The current administration headed by President Trump promised increased deportation of undocumented immigrants on the campaign trail last fall, and the president’s executive order, which denies funds to “sanctuary cities,” penalizes communities that protect immigrants from scrutiny. These sanctuary cities, which include New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, protect undocumented immigrants by limiting their local police forces’ execution of federal law; in these cities, the police only detain undocumented immigrants if they have committed crimes.
In a similar manner, a sanctuary campus would order its security officials not to question students about their immigration status. Students may be especially susceptible to the current administration’s deportation efforts because of former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which was established by an executive order in 2012. Te policy allowed immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors to avoid deportation so long as they were currently in school, had graduated high school or were honorably discharged from the military. Now this executive order faces a threat from Trump, who has the power to singlehandedly overturn it. Te undocumented immigrants who applied for DACA status would then be vulnerable to deportation, and the government would be able to find them because they identified themselves to the federal government when applying for deferred status. Most of the immigrants that applied for DACA status reside in California and Texas, but no matter the number of undocumented students currently enrolled at SLU, the University should stand with its students against the Trump administration’s executive order.
Undocumented immigrants may not be citizens, but they are people—they are our neighbors and coworkers, our friends and fellow students. They are major contributors to our country, giving roughly $12 billion in taxes each year, according to Politifact. These people do not receive the same benefits, such as Social Security, that citizens receive from the tax dollars they contribute. On the other hand, President Trump, the man who wants to deport these undocumented immigrants, has not paid a dime in income taxes for almost 20 years.
Undocumented immigrants do not pose the threat to our country that individuals like Trump have claimed. The Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit research organization that is against granting legal status to undocumented immigrants, has not found that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. “There’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population,” Janice Kephart, a CIS researcher, said in 2015.
In calling upon the University to declare its campus a sanctuary, we acknowledge the University Mission, which states that the University “welcomes students, faculty and staff from all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs and creates a sense of community that facilitates their development as men and women for others.” In this statement, the University urges students to contribute to the rest of society and create an environment where all people feel safe. Through declaring sanctuary status, the University achieves this end.
In addition, the University “fosters programs that link University resources to local, national and international communities in collaborative efforts to alleviate ignorance, poverty, injustice and hunger; extend compassionate care to the ill and needy; and maintain and improve the quality of life for all persons.” In these circumstances, those in need are the University’s students and the collective students of the U.S., which include those whom may be undocumented. If the University intends to “improve the quality of life for all persons,” it must know that by making such a statement, what follows is a declaration in kind—one maintaining that this campus is safe for all.
There is a petition on change.org that calls on Saint Louis University to declare sanctuary status for its campus. The petition currently has over 700 signatures.