OBERLIN — Oberlin College students joined with students all over the country Thursday in support of creating sanctuary campuses.
The desire for a sanctuary campus comes in response to Donald Trump’s campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented people after he takes office.
Faculty at the campus threw their support behind students as well by signing and submitting a petition to President Marvin Krislov asking administration to research the possibility of becoming a sanctuary campus.
When pressed about the specifics of how such a concept would work, faculty and students said that’s something that’s being brainstormed.
“Organizers and institutions across the country are developing strategies that align with their campus climate, current resources for undocumented people and local/state police,” said Julio Reyes, assistant director of student outreach and success at the college and one of the faculty who signed the petition. “The specific protections that a sanctuary campus can offer have not been determined yet, but hopefully college and universities will begin the difficult work of developing and answer.”
The march was organized by a student group called Obies for Undocumented Inclusion.
Marcelo Vinces, director for the center for learning, education and research in the sciences, carried a sign during the march saying he used to be undocumented.
“I remember being undocumented, and it was a scary time,” Vinces said. “I was a kid, and I knew that my family was worried and that’s not a good state to be in if you’re trying to study for a midterm.”
Some undocumented students are protected under Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, a federal executive action which grants students who have come to the United State as children “deferred action” for two years with the possibility of renewal.
DACA was established by an executive action under President Barack Obama, but President-elect Trump said he plans to do away with it. Further, Trump has threatened to pull federal funding from any city that is a sanctuary city.
In Lorain County, only Lorain and Oberlin are considered sanctuary cities, but even that is a bit complicated.
For example, though Lorain is widely regarded as a sanctuary city because of Police Chief Cel Rivera’s policy not to ask for immigration status, Mayor Chase Ritenauer said it is not an official declaration.
The policy is a bit more convoluted in Oberlin. City Council in 2009 passed a resolution stating its “opposition to federal measures that infringe on civil liberties and reaffirms its strong support for the rights of non-citizen and citizen immigrants as well as international visitors, and opposes measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their country of origin.”
However, a section in the resolution said “nothing in this resolution shall be construed to prohibit city staff from cooperating with federal immigration authorities when required under federal law.”
Shelley Lee, associate professor of history and comparative American studies, said the petition from the college asks the college administration and legal counsel to research many of the practicalities of being a sanctuary campus.
“This is all being investigated as we speak,” Lee said. “Remember that this push materialized only after last Tuesday’s election.”