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University of Redlands: We support all scholars who join our community

The Trump administration today rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which since 2012 has provided legal protection and eligibility for a work permit to approximately 800,000 individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as children and remain undocumented. The order states that termination of DACA will become effective six months from now. Until then, it is possible that Congress will enact new immigration policies that will enable DACA registrants to remain in the country, but we cannot know at this time whether that will happen or what kind of alternative the federal government might propose.

We want to assert once again that, as a teaching and learning community, our mission, and therefore our commitment, is to support everyone in our community who seeks to expand their mind and skills, find their passion, contribute to society and the world, and ensure a bright, productive future for themselves and their family – through education. We support all scholars who join our community, regardless of their immigration status or national origin. Moreover, as a compassionate, humane, and empathetic community, we remain committed to our core values of diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination.

University Counsel Brent Geraty, coordinating with University Dean of Student Affairs Donna Eddleman and Assistant Provost for Internationalization Steve Wuhs, is analyzing the president’s order and preparing more comprehensive guidelines for those who may be affected. In the meantime:

·         Read the latest guidance offered by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center here.

·         If you are a DACA recipient or are otherwise undocumented, we advise that you not travel out of the country at this time. If you are a DACA recipient currently outside of the country, we advise you to return to the U.S. as quickly as possible.

·         We want to reiterate that U of R student records are not released without student consent or a judicial order. Law enforcement must present a warrant or subpoena before the University may be compelled to assist in contacting any member of our community.

·         You might wish to re-read the “FAQs” (below) first published in the University Announcement from December 2016.

·         If you are a student of any status whose personal or family financial situation has been or may be impacted by this change, please contact Student Financial Services at sfs@redlands.edu or 909-748-8047.

·         Whether or not you are registered with the DACA program, if you need general guidance, please contact the Office of the University Dean of Student Affairs at 909-748-8053.

·         The Counseling Center will have walk-in hours today (Sept. 5, 2017) for students seeking support around the DACA decision. The Center is open now and available to students until 5 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.

We will write again soon with updates, more specifics, and recommendations about the impact of this action on our fellow Bulldogs. If you are or may be affected, please know that we are with you. We will do all that is possible – humanly, legally, morally – to enable you to finish the goals that you set out to achieve when you came to Redlands. 

FAQs 

Q.:  How many undocumented students attend the University?

A.:  We do not know a specific number.  International students who come to the University must have a valid visa, but we do not inquire about the immigration status of students who graduate from American high schools.  Based on self-disclosure, we estimate there may be more than ten undocumented students in the College of Arts & Sciences and likely a larger number in the graduate and professional schools.

Q.:  Can a student’s immigration status, if known, be disclosed by the University?

A.:  The University protects student privacy under existing federal and state laws, most notably the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Under FERPA, the University cannot disclose personally-identifiable information from educational records without a student’s consent.  As a result, we would decline requests from the federal government to identify undocumented students.  Our departments of Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, the Health Center, Counseling, and Public Safety already do not ask students about their legal or immigration status, because it is not required to do so and would be an unnecessary intrusion to ask – just like many other privately held identities.  There is an exception to FERPA that permits disclosure of otherwise private information pursuant to a judicial order or lawfully-issued subpoena.  If the University is presented with a judicial order to turn over otherwise private information, we will comply with the order.  If the University is presented with a lawfully-issued subpoena, we will make a judgment about whether we should comply with the subpoena, or we might seek to quash the subpoena through court actions.  The University would seek to quash the subpoena if it was apparent that the federal government was on a “fishing expedition.”  Unless the law required the University not to do so, we would publicize the fact that we had moved to quash a subpoena seeking information about undocumented students. 

Q.:  Is the University planning to do anything to ensure that employees understand their obligations to protect student privacy?

A.:  Employees who work with or encounter educational records should already be aware of their obligations.  Nonetheless, the University is about to roll out an updated FERPA training for faculty, administrators, and staff who work with protected student information. 

Q.:  I am a Redlands employee.  What should I do if I receive an inquiry, subpoena, or warrant seeking information about a University student?  

A.:  All inquiries should be declined unless the student has consented to the disclosure.  If there is uncertainty about whether consent has been granted, or if there is a court order, warrant, or subpoena, the matter should be forwarded to the General Counsel’s office: 909-748-8076; brent_geraty@redlands.edu. 

Q.:  What would the University do to protect undocumented University employees?

A.:  The University does not hire undocumented employees.  Prior to beginning work, all employees must provide documentation of their United States citizenship or work authorization.  Student employees also must provide evidence of work authorization prior to acquiring a student job.  The only undocumented individuals employed by the University in any capacity are those undocumented students who have registered with DACA and received work authorization.

Q.:  What might our cooperative relationship with local law enforcement (e.g., Redlands Police Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department) mean for the security of undocumented individuals in our community?

A.:  The University enjoys a mutually supportive relationship with local law enforcement agencies.  Law enforcement helps our Public Safety officers to protect the campus, and cooperation from the University, in turn, helps law enforcement solve and deter crime.  This is formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Redlands Police Department, which we will review to clarify that our cooperation does not extend to immigration enforcement practices.

Q.:  I am an undocumented student.  Should I continue with my plan to study abroad?

A.:  Given the uncertainty over what steps the new federal administration might take, the University recommends that all undocumented students who are abroad return to the United States prior to January 20, 2017.  Undocumented students considering future study abroad opportunities will want to wait before making any decisions or leaving the country.  This counsel is consistent with the advice of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) and the California State University system, among others.

Q.:  By protecting undocumented students, isn’t the University promoting/rewarding illegal behavior?

A.:  The University supports the rule of law and believes that the United States’ commitment to the rule of law is a particular strength of its democracy.  The University will comply with all its legal obligations and will encourage others to comply with theirs.  Undocumented students are in the United States primarily because of the choices and decisions that someone else made (parents, grandparents, or guardians).  We believe that it would be unjust to punish undocumented students for choices and decisions in which they had no agency.  We further believe that each undocumented student should have the right to pursue an education and a life dedicated to service and community – both hallmarks of the University of Redlands. 

Q.:  Will the University of Redlands become a “sanctuary campus”?  What would that mean?

A.:  The University does not have any current plan to designate itself as a “sanctuary campus.”  Our plan reflects the fact that the “sanctuary” designation is a self-defined construct and does not have a uniform meaning or legal status.  While not giving itself a label, the University is behaving, and will behave, in a manner that protects the privacy and dignity of its students, employees, and members of the community.  We are also following the issue closely and, as things develop, we can always retain the flexibility to decide on some different course.  

Q.:  What is the University doing to demonstrate its care and concern for undocumented students?

A.:  We have identified a number of things we are doing, or will do, for undocumented students:

·         The University will continue its admissions and financial aid practices that are “blind” to immigration status, just as they are blind to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and a host of other legally-protected characteristics.

·         The University’s commitment to its legal obligations and to student privacy means that student information will not be given out, absent a legal obligation to do so.

·         The Office of Campus Diversity and Inclusion already has connected undocumented students to resources through East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, an organization providing support and legal services to individuals escaping war, intolerance, and persecution.

·         The University has arranged for an immigration attorney to come to campus in early January, 2017 to provide a free consultation to any undocumented or international student who feels the need to seek legal counsel (more details will be released soon).

·         The University is willing to pay the DACA renewal fees ($465) for any current University student who renewed, or will renew, between November 8, 2016 and January 20, 2017.

·         If the new federal administration revokes or modifies the DACA program by executive order, the University will examine undocumented students’ needs on an individual basis.

These FAQs were originally published in a December 2016 University Announcement.