By David Pendered
Hundreds of Emory University students, staff and faculty have asked administrators to ban law enforcement officers from campus if their purpose is to apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants. The president responded Tuesday with a letter titled, “Emory affirms support for undocumented students.”
The deportation issue is one of nine raised in a petition delivered Monday to Emory President Claire Sterk and two top administrators. The petition cites campaign promises by President-elect Donald Trump that he will dismantle Obama’s two executive orders that provided deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Trump has said he will immediately end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a related Obama program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The Supreme Court blocked DAPA in a ruling issued in June.
“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants,” Trump said in his Aug. 31 Address on Immigration.
The fifth plank of Trump’s “10 Point Plan to Put America First” states:
- “Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties. All immigration laws will be enforced – we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.”
The petition was delivered to Sterk; Stuart Zola, interim executive vice president and provost; and Ajay Nair, senior vice president and dean of campus life. All three signed the response.
The petition is titled, “Addressing the Need for a Sanctuary Campus and Providing Support for Undocumented Members of the Emory Community.” It begins:
- “The election of Donald Trump presents a clear challenge to Emory’s core commitment to inclusiveness, particularly for undocumented members of our community. President-elect Trump has promised to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program during his first days in office.”
The petition’s first plank states:
- “We request that you work with local police departments and Emory Police to ensure that Emory’s campus and its facilities are protected from ICE enforcement. This measure is in line with a 2011 policy from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which notes that law enforcement and ICE officials cannot enter the campus without the permission of the university. Similarly, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol officers are subject to restrictions regarding places of worship, schools, and hospitals.”
Sterk commended the petition signers for what she called, “your constructive approach,” and went on to, “recognize your deep caring for members of our community who are threatened by the possible changes in federal immigration policy and enforcement.”
The letter continued:
- “Emory’s values have not changed: our university community embraces students, faculty, and staff from many racial, religious, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, national, and international backgrounds. We believe the intellectual and social energy that results from such diversity is critical to advancing knowledge.”
The letter said administrators will hasten to assess and evaluate, “how to best serve those in our community whose immigration status puts them at risk.” Sterk asked that signers recommend members who could work with administrators to develop any response.
The letter concludes:
- “We believe there is much we can do at Emory and in partnership with other organizations to help all of our community members flourish in these uncertain times.”