Provost Daniel Diermeier, on behalf of the University, committed to support immigrant students regardless of their legal status, according to an e-mail sent to the campus community a little more than a week after Donald Trump was elected president.
The University of Chicago enrolls undocumented students and gives them access to private financial aid through the University. In his e-mail, Diermeier said the University would continue to do so and is “committed to raising more private funds for financial aid to assist international and undocumented students.”
Diermeier also said that non-citizens would continue to have access to the same set of campus services and guarantees of confidentiality with regard to their citizenship status while enrolled at the school.
“The national conversation around these issues has caused many in our community a great deal of concern. We take these concerns seriously and will be closely monitoring any proposed changes at the local, state and national level,” Diermeier wrote. Diermeier also said the University would continue to help immigrants with their visa status and other issues.
The University of Chicago Coalition for Immigrant Rights (UCCIR) responded to the e-mail with a post on its Facebook page: “We appreciate the support and will continue organizing and working with the University to ensure that UChicago is a safe campus for all.”
Several other universities have publicly reaffirmed their policy toward immigrant students after Trump’s election. The chancellor of California State University (CSU) said that CSU would “not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law” unless legally compelled to do so.
Students, alumni and faculty at several Ivy League universities and a growing number of other schools have petitioned their administrations to make their campuses “sanctuary campuses,” analogous to “sanctuary cities,” which limit official cooperation with agencies that enforce federal immigration law.
Under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, some undocumented people who entered the United States as children and met other requirements could apply for temporary relief from deportation and receive work authorization. When the program was announced, Karen Warren Coleman, then vice president for campus life and student services, sent an e-mail to the campus stating that the program “significantly expands educational and degree opportunities for undocumented students.” The e-mail provided links to an application to the program.
Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would overturn all of Obama’s executive actions, leaving the status of people who participated in the program in doubt. Trump has pledged to deport huge numbers of undocumented people and to tighten U.S. immigration law. The 2015 version of a yearly report of student body demographics required by the state of Illinois classified more than one in 10 undergraduates, and a larger percentage of graduate and professional students, as “non-resident aliens.”
The University of Chicago first publicly affirmed its policy with regard to undocumented students and applicants in 2010, under pressure from UCCIR. The University simultaneously declined to endorse the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to permanent residency for some immigrants, stating that it would not comment on political questions.