Wary of ‘Sanctuary’ Status

Since Trump’s unexpected victory in November, universities across the country faced calls from their students, faculty and staff to call themselves a  “sanctuary campuses” for undocumented students given temporary immigration benefit by the Obama administration in 2012. This week, Emory’s administration denied similar demands from its own community.

This decision may not satisfy progressives keen on challenging Trump, but University President Claire E. Sterk did what is best for the Emory community. Continuing to admit undocumented students and provide them with financial aid is in the interest of the Emory community at large; taking sides in a contentious political debate may not be. What matters in the coming months are the tangible actions Emory’s administration takes to ensure that DACA students at Emory receive financial aid.

Undocumented students at Emory have expressed fear that declaring Emory a sanctuary campus would draw unnecessary attention to the University and the undocumented students on campus. Emory’s decision to reject the sanctuary campus label does not reflect maligned values or poor judgment. Instead, it highlights the administration’s restraint and foresight.

Sterk directed Emory’s focus toward helping current and future undocumented students at Emory, rather than fighting for the rights of undocumented immigrants in general. Protest is powerful, but the University itself should not assume the role of a political activist.

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board. 

Correction (2/7/17 at 1:55 p.m.): The article originally stated that Obama’s executive order was put into effect in 2011 and gave legal status to undocumented students. This is not the case. It was put into effect in 2012 and gave undocumented students temporary immigration benefit. Also, the article originally stated that Emory provides undocumented students with campus resources. This is not the case. Emory only provides undocumented students with DACA financial aid. The article has been edited to correct these inaccuracies.

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