The Georgetown University Sanctuary Movement, a group of students pushing the university to become a sanctuary campus, launched a petition Nov. 23 calling for Georgetown to guarantee the rights of students without documentation as well as “making a commitment to the human rights, safety and dignity of every Georgetown student and employee, as well as their families.”
Modeled after the over 200 “sanctuary cities” nationwide, the sanctuary campus designation involves adopting policies protecting students without documentation. The protections range from offering tuition support to refusing to allow Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officer on campus without a warrant. The measures are designed to make campus environments stable for those who call these communities home.
The petition, titled “Open Letter to President DeGioia — Make Georgetown a Sanctuary”, comes at a time when colleges and universities across the country are designating themselves as sanctuaries for students without documentation.
Our community has already made recent strides to more effectively serve those here without documentation, yet we encourage students to sign the petition and for Georgetown to establish itself as a sanctuary. This university holds an opportunity to further express their support of all students, regardless of their identity or immigration status.
In some respects, Georgetown has already made excellent progress in addressing the needs of students without documentation on campus. The university demonstrated solidarity for students without documentation consistent with its Jesuit values, launching an online portal with legal and academic resources in April and hiring part-time coordinator Arelis Palacios last week to help them navigate university life.
In addition, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia already demonstrated a great deal of support for students without documentation by signing the “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students.” Such a document called the support of all students, regardless of documentation status, “both a moral imperative and a national necessity.”
While Georgetown’s recent initiatives are commendable, the university should take on a more active role in supporting and protecting students regardless of immigration status, within the boundaries of the law, through the development of specific resources and other policies.
If they undertook such actions, Georgetown would join schools across the country that are seeking to improve the lives of students without documentation within their campuses. Schools like Wesleyan University, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, the administrations of which have claimed they will not allow the ICE onto campus without a warrant or share students’ immigration status with the ICE.
Wesleyan President Michael Roth stated in an interview with the Hartford Courant that the university would gather resources, both legal and otherwise, to support students without documentation and ensure no information about students’ immigration statuses would be handed over to immigration officials unless they were legally obligated.
Roth continued his support by stating: “Not that this place is a place to hide, but a place where faculty, students and staff can have their information protected.” His argument exemplifies what Georgetown should also strive to achieve in terms of protecting all of its students, regardless of immigration status.
Given our current array of resources, Georgetown’s support for students without documentation deserves praise. Addressing the petition’s demands regarding making the university a sanctuary campus would further embody and emulate the progress this university has made. The university must work to make sure we provide a safe and stable environment for all, regardless of identity, race, ethnicity or immigration status.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.