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La Verne considers plight of undocumented students

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Assistant Professor of Psychology Nadine Nakamura asks Provost Jonathan Reed and Vice President of Facilities and Technology Clive Houston-Brown to clarify the University of La Verne’s position regarding its designation as a sanctuary for undocumented students. The discussion on the institution’s stance on the matter was held earlier this month in the Howell Board Room. Associate Professor of Kinesiology Brian Clocksin and Dean of Student Affairs Loretta Rahmani were among the crowded Howell Board Room. / photo by Tyler Deacy

Assistant Professor of Psychology Nadine Nakamura asks Provost Jonathan Reed and Vice President of Facilities and Technology Clive Houston-Brown to clarify the University of La Verne’s position regarding its designation as a sanctuary for undocumented students. The discussion on the institution’s stance on the matter was held earlier this month in the Howell Board Room. Associate Professor of Kinesiology Brian Clocksin and Dean of Student Affairs Loretta Rahmani were among the crowded Howell Board Room. / photo by Tyler Deacy

Brooke Grasso
Editor in Chief

Christina Garcia
News Editor

While some professors fear class interruptions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, demanding they turn in undocumented students, University administrators are addressing these real concerns head on.

President Trump’s recent executive orders, including the Muslim travel ban and the border wall, along with his stepped up deportation of undocumented immigrants, has set the diverse University of La Verne community on edge, wondering when they will be confronted with the fallout of these sweeping measures.

Various campus groups and committees have called on ULV administration to take steps to protect undocumented students. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, students who came to the U.S. as children were not targeted for deportation under former President Obama.

However, in light of the 2016 presidential elections, the future for DACA students is uncertain.

With recent reports of ICE going to immigrants’ homes, waiting outside of courthouses and arriving at their children’s schools, the University is preparing for the possibility of ICE coming onto campus.

To provide pertinent information to students and staff in this time of uncertainty, Chief Diversity officer Beatriz Gonzalez sent an email informing faculty and staff of what to do, should ICE agents come to campus.

If approached by a government agent or investigator, if they request student information they should be directed to the University’s general counsel or Campus Safety.
If the agent refuses, faculty and staff should immediately contact the offices themselves, Gonzalez’s email states.

“Over the past several months, we have worked to support students and their families who may be impacted by changing federal immigration policy,” Gonzalez wrote.

University President Devorah Lieberman, Provost Jonathan Reed and Gonzalez held a meeting with the faculty senate this month in response to a petition signed by roughly 80 faculty members calling for substantive provisions to protect ULV’s undocumented students.

The meeting addressed concerns including sanctuary status, continuation of admitting DACA students and refusal to release voluntary information to immigration officers.

During the meeting, Diane Klein, professor at the La Verne College of Law, and law professor Diane Uchimiya, director of the Justice and Immigration Clinic, voiced the concerns for the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee to respond to DACA Enforcement Actions.

Klein said the committee had four main goals. The first was for the University to provide a letter with policies and instructions if ICE requests information or physical access, as Gonzales did Thursday.

The second was provide specific training for employees who engage with the public, and anyone interested in attending. The third was to create a tab on the front page of the University website that compiles information and instructions to help DACA students or undocumented applicants know how to protect themselves. The last thing was to have the University increase resources to the Justice and Immigration Clinic.

“We want it to be available for students, staff members and their families as a source of information and possibly representation if they need it,” Klein said. “But for that to happen more resources for the clinic are needed.”

Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of facilities and technology, also spoke at the meeting to clarify Campus Safety’s role.

“Their role is to support students in their learning process in their time at ULV,” Houston-Brown said. “We are not here to enforce state or federal immigration law. We are here to keep the safety and security of faculty and students.”

If ICE requested specific students’ information, it could not be released in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA protects student educational records, and without a valid subpoena or arrest warrant, the University is not required to turn them over.

“There is a need for all of us to educate ourselves on what our rights are as citizens when approached by law enforcement at any time,” Houston-Brown said.

Houston-Brown said students also need to know what their rights are and that while it can be intimidating, a student is not obligated to release any information without a subpoena or arrest warrant addressed to them.

In addition, if students ever see law enforcement on campus, unless it is for an event, they should contact Campus Safety.

Administration also took recommendations from the Faculty Diversity Committee.

When Donald Trump was elected in November, the Faculty Diversity Committee presented a petition to administration to name the University a sanctuary campus and to disseminate information to students, faculty and staff. The petition prompted a meeting with Reed and Gonzalez, where they took recommendations from the committee.

“We feel administration has been very receptive to our recommendations,” said Ingrid Baartman, chairwoman of the Faculty Diversity Committee. “Now the action is to follow with specific practices and steps.”

In a meeting earlier this month, Gonzalez indicated that extended training and video scenarios will be provided, and information will be added to the website and possibly to the Portal.
The diversity committee also requested that information be made available in classrooms and regional campuses.

Baartman, who has been teaching classes off campus since 2008, said she is concerned about regional campuses because they do not have immediate access to Campus Safety or general counsel.
“Teaching in a fear-based environment is very hard for our students,” Baartman said.

Baartman, a Brazilian immigrant, said the issue hits close to home.

“I’m glad I could be part of Faculty Diversity Committee, to really promote awareness and request action from administration,” Baartman said. “We are all on board that our students need to be protected.”

Although the petition’s initial call for the University to be a sanctuary campus was turned down, Baartman said she still feels ULV is going in the right direction protecting its students.
“We don’t in any way want the University to have any financial aid ramifications if we were to name ourselves a sanctuary campus, but we are taking actions to protect our students,” she said.
Jason Neidleman, chairman of the history and political science department, said that the University should release statements that commit to protecting students and make an example for other institutions to follow.

“We should take advantage of lawyers we have and issue a statement that delineates precisely what is our institutional right to protect our students,” he said.

Although Neidleman acknowledges the possible financial ramifications, he said that should not hinder the University in adhering to its core values.

“We shouldn’t be intimidated by the threat of losing federal funds,” Neidleman said. “We need as many universities and institutions to take similar stands to reduce the threat of federal fund removal.”

The main concern for Cynthia Ramirez, junior business major and president of Latino Student Forum, is the emotional toll recent deportations take on students and their families. While the main conversations are about procedures for a possible ICE visit, she said more needs to be done to emotionally support students and the larger community.

“We forget about taking care of us internally, and what is going on with us inside, off campus,” Ramirez said.

LSF has held forums to discuss the situation, but Ramirez said she thinks there should be forums with faculty and administration to address concerns beyond a campus-wide email.

“I feel the University is forgetting that we are not only fearing for ourselves, because we have a small group of DACA students, we are fearing for our families,” she said.

For more information, a training calendar, links to helpful agencies and local attorneys visit laverne.edu/diversity/immigration-related-information-resources. For Campus Safety call 909-448-4950. For the general counsel call 909-448-4730 or 909-448-4753.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.
Christina Garcia can be reached at christina.garcia2@laverne.edu.

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