Students at the University of Colorado-Boulder joined over 80 other schools across the US as part of a National Day of Action that walked out of classes or participated in sit-ins to demand that their campuses become an official #SanctuaryCampus.
Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and following a campaign of rhetoric targeting the undocumented population in the US, students called on their schools to offer permanent protections for those students without papers and continued respect for the immigrant community.
In solidarity with Movimiento Cosecha, a national immigrant rights organization, students and their allies want assurances from school administration against cooperating with any immigration entity that threatens the safety of their classmates on their campuses.
Students who are enrolled in schools without documents or who are waiting for their documentations – sometimes a decades-long process – to be in the country legally were feeling vulnerable after the election of Trump. But their classmates who showed solidarity with them today have taken action above and beyond protests and sit-ins as they did in Boulder, and at the University of Colorado-Denver.
In Boulder, Michaela Mujica-Steiner participated and said, “The school is in a unique position to put in policies that would interfere with immigration, deportation and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement].” Mujica-Steiner said that it was up to impacted students to decide what their sanctuary campus would look like but that it could involve requiring administrators to refuse to release names or documentation status of students.
Undocumented students who qualify for the DACA or Deferred Action Program have been exempt from deportation after President Barack Obama implemented the program during his administration. But a consistent campaign theme of Donald Trump was the intention to deport all persons who are in the country “illegally.” Trump has said that he intends to eliminate the program but even basic details on many of his proposed policies have not been clear to the public.
In a press release, organizers said that undocumented students are “coming out of the shadows as undocumented, unafraid and resilient in the face of uncertainty. “Inspired by the high school demonstrations last week, young people across the country are walking out to say they will do whatever it takes to stop Trump and his immigration enforcement machine, and they are calling on their schools and universities to make the same commitment.”
“Our colleges and universities, have a moral responsibility to ensure that all students and campus workers regardless of immigration status feel safe and protected in their campuses,” says Carlos Rojas Rodriguez, an organizer with Movimiento Cosecha. “We are asking our administrations what side they are on; that is what #SanctuaryCampus is all about.”
“It is not just about what happens on our campus. We want to show the American public that we will not let Trump normalize deportations and hate crimes against the communities his campaign targeted,” said Emma Pion-Berlin, a student at CU Boulder. “We will affirm over and over again: this is not normal. This cannot become normal.”
Organizers concluded, “At a moment in time when there is much reason for fear and despair, these walkouts and sit-ins are an expression of hope; hope that schools and universities will commit themselves to sanctuary; hope that people will rise up in the face of deportations; hope that the American public will see and recognize the country depends on immigrants.”