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Firmly Committed: In Response to DACA decision

Posted by: Date: September 6, 2017
PLU 4 Undocumented Students

In the spring of 2016, students, staff and faculty joined in on the PLU4US: For and With Undocumented Students crowd funding campaign to raise over $30,000 for undocumented PLU students (Photo: PLU/Hansel Doan)

Dear Campus Community:

This morning, the White House announced a plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. I want to affirm to you that PLU remains firmly committed to the well being of ALL of our students, regardless of their immigration status.

I joined presidents of the 10 members of the Independent Colleges of Washington, Washington’s six public baccalaureate college and universities, 34 community and technical colleges, as well as the 10 members of the Washington Student Achievement Council, to issue a statement regarding our profound disappointment in the call to terminate DACA. The program has supported 800,000 students nationwide, and it’s our duty to stand up for these indispensable members of our classrooms and communities. The statement reads, in part:

“These young [people] are some of the finest and most resilient students at our colleges and universities, often exhibiting unique character forged in the fire of adversity. They overcome major obstacles just to gain and retain eligibility without access to the federal financial assistance needed by so many to help make a college education attainable.

In Washington, all of our students, regardless of their immigration status, are invaluable to the teaching we provide in our classrooms, the research we perform in our labs, and the discoveries we make in medicine. These students and those who came before them are not strangers on our campuses, in our communities, and in our homes. They are our [children], our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our family. They are us.”

At PLU, it’s ingrained in our mission to educate and sustain communities through service and care. DACA recipients play a vital role locally, regionally and nationally — innovating, serving and improving the world around them in the face of immense uncertainty. What they can be certain of is our continued support, compassion and commitment to their success.  

We will do all in our power to provide an inclusive and respectful environment for all community members. Consistent with our mission and our stated values, we commit to the following:

  • PLU will not voluntarily enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law. Many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) programs are based on voluntary cooperation with local jurisdictions, as the federal government has an extremely limited ability to force local law enforcement, other local or state agencies, and private entities to aid in the enforcement of federal law. See Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997, anti-commandeering doctrine).
  • PLU will not voluntarily release any information to ICE or other federal agencies related to immigration status unless legally compelled to do so. A valid subpoena or warrant would, of course, have to be honored, but if the university receives requests for information that implicate individual privacy rights, we will protect the privacy of those members of our community in compliance with federal and state student privacy laws. We will not release immigration status or related information in confidential student records to federal agencies or other parties without permission from the student, or without a judicial warrant, a subpoena, a court order, or as otherwise required by law. This includes a policy that prevents university staff and offices from acquiring information related to students’ immigration status, and a policy against relaying such information to federal immigration officials.
  • PLU will not cooperate with any federal effort to create a registry of individuals based on any protected characteristics such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation.
  • PLU continues to welcome applications from qualified students who are undocumented, including those who have DACA immigration status or who are DACA-eligible. As you may know, DACA students are eligible for state and institutional aid. If DACA is revoked, we will continue to provide institutional aid to impacted students. Additionally, we have been in contact with the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), and we are not aware of any plans to discontinue state aid to undocumented students, but we will closely monitor the situation.
  • We are establishing an action plan for what will happen if an undocumented student is detained or deported, including how the university will handle their credits, financial aid and any money they have paid for tuition and/or room and board, and we will maintain their student status if they are forced to leave during the academic year.    
  • PLU Campus Safety officers are here to protect our students and the university community. Officers will not contact, detain, question or arrest an individual solely on the basis of suspected immigration status. Campus Safety officers will not detain an individual in response to an immigration hold request from ICE, or any other law enforcement agency charged with enforcing immigration laws, unless doing so is required by law.
  • PLU is engaging our network of alumni and friends who have expertise in immigration law to connect students to legal clinics, resources, and consultation opportunities that may be of assistance to them as they navigate questions related to immigration status and implications.
  • PLU continues to invest in additional training to ensure we have capacity to provide responsive mental health and health resources to our students who may be dealing with anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Finally, PLU does not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment against members of its community based on their citizenship or immigration status, religion or other status. PLU protects free expression of ideas as vital learning in an educational setting. Freedom of speech sometimes protects controversial ideas and sometimes protects even offensive and hurtful language; however, it does not protect personal threats, discriminatory conduct or other acts of misconduct that violate the Student Code of Conduct, university policies, or federal, state and local laws.

I want to reiterate, in the strongest possible terms, that PLU is committed to the success of undocumented students as integral members of our community. We will continue to invest in resources that provide specific support for their success, regardless of external threats to that success.  Anyone in need of resources is encouraged to visit the Undocumented Student Resources tab on The Diversity Center webpage: www.plu.edu/undocumented-students

Students who are deeply affected by news of this legislation are encouraged to speak with Student Life representatives:

The Undocumented Student Taskforce will have a schedule of educational opportunities for staff, faculty, and students available later in September.

We are proud to work with and for undocumented students.

President Allan Belton's signature
Allan Belton
President

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