Opinion, Staff Editorial

University response to executive orders raises more questions

The idea of sanctuary campuses is shrouded in ambiguity, and the practical outcome of this designation is still unclear. Schools such as Wesleyan and California State University have policies allowing them to refuse to help – but cannot hinder – immigration forces and law enforcement. The UC system has also ordered that their police services not participate in immigration enforcement, along with helping students retain financial aid and acquire legal assistance in the event of detainment.

UM administration has not concretely agreed to such sanctuary policies, along with many other schools around the country who are cautious to risk the legal and financial repercussions. Yet UM seems to want to give the impression that it is a sanctuary campus.

The university released an announcement last week in support of undocumented DACA students, or “Dreamers,” but little additional action is actually being provided during a time of great uncertainty for all non-citizens. Our community relies on university leaders for guidance and a sense of stability that’s best achieved with actual information.

What was provided, however, was a misleading statement that appeared to announce support for DACA students in light of the executive orders but in reality just reviewed existing on-campus resources, such as the Immigration Clinic and the Counseling Center, as well as a new scholarship for high school seniors from Miami-Dade county applying to UM for the fall.

The key phrase buried in the announcement is that the university “will do all it can, within the law, to enable them to continue their education and employment.” This statement lacks substance, as the law itself contains so many ambiguities. By limiting itself to what’s legal while reemphasizing university values of inclusion and tolerance, UM has positioned itself in a middle ground, straddling both a sense of empathy and a compliance with the rapidly-changing immigration laws.

Students are not looking for the university to be comforting in the midst of a stressful situation. Students are looking for real, honest details about any progress that’s been made and the specific factors considered by these decisions.  If this statement is the end of the line, then it appears that UM is saying its hands are tied in any legal sense and will not function as a “sanctuary campus.”

However, the tone of the statement suggests otherwise, which makes students wonder how UM will enable Dreamers to continue when a difficult situation arises. If students are affected, does UM plan on helping students find pro bono immigration lawyers? Will UM offer distance-learning options for students who do end up being detained?

It would be more helpful for the university to decide on a concrete plan of action before making an announcement, or to inform the community if tough decisions are still being made. We don’t need to know the destination, but we deserve to know which direction we’re headed.

The full university announcement can be found at news.miami.edu.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board. 

February 1, 2017

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