José Galarza wants Hood College to be a place that protects and supports all of its students.
But after Tuesday, the senior business major feels differently about how the college can achieve that goal.
When Galarza saw the trend of college students around the country starting petitions demanding that their schools become sanctuary campuses for immigrants, he wanted to take a different approach.
“I don’t think Hood is the kind of place where its students should be demanding something like that,” he said. “I don’t think that is how our students should go about things.”
Instead, he asked Hood College administrators — Charles Mann, vice president of finance and treasurer, Provost Debbie Ricker and President Andrea Chapdelaine — to start a discussion about what it would take and mean to make Hood College or any other university a sanctuary campus. Most sanctuary campuses are modeled after sanctuary cities, which are cities that limit the amount of cooperation with government to enforce immigration law.
In response, the school hosted Janis Judson, chair of the Department of Law and Criminal Justice at Hood, and Andrea Shuford, principal attorney at Shuford Immigration Law in Virginia and a graduate of Hood, to answer questions and discuss what a sanctuary campus is, and what it isn’t. More than 30 students, teachers and faculty attended the discussion.
Judson, whose background is in constitutional law, discussed immigration law and who has the power to set and enforce immigration. Immigration law is evolving and has been a constant issue of which all three branches of the federal government have battled.
In June 2012, the Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — to allow recipients who were illegally brought into the country as children to receive a renewable two-year grace period to avoid deportation and the opportunity to receive eligibility for a work permit. These recipients are often referred to as “dreamers.”
More than 750,000 people nationally have benefited from DACA since the program was implemented, Judson said. There are 34,000 people who qualify for DACA benefits in Maryland, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
However, recent restrictions from the Trump administration on immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally have heightened concerns for dreamers about whether President Donald Trump’s commitment is to them.
“In today’s atmosphere of intolerance, undocumented immigrants and students remain frightened, and understandably so,” Judson said.
Shuford, who has offered pro-bono services to students at Hood College who may face immigration issues, said making it a sanctuary campus wouldn’t really have much meaning. The term sanctuary has no basis in law and no legal status in federal law, Shuford said.
Limiting cooperation with law enforcement would not mean aiding and abetting or harboring a person who has entered the country illegally, Shuford said. Instead, it means the campus wouldn’t actively assist law enforcement in detaining such a person.
One example of actively assisting law enforcement is secure communities, Shuford said. Secure communities are communities that, when authorities detain someone and find out that they may be in the country illegally, the authorities hold them and wait for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — or ICE — to pick them up.
Shuford said those agencies often hold that person longer than they should under due process rights, which can lead to lawsuits.
“We have had situations where someone has been detained for 14 days longer than they should have been,” Shuford said. “That is a major due process violation.”
Since 2008, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins has partnered with ICE under the 287(g) “Criminal Alien Program,” which allows the sheriff’s office to identify and begin the deportation process for undocumented immigrants in cooperation with ICE.
Shuford said she would not recommend Hood College choose to become a self-designated sanctuary campus because that often does more harm than good, and can make immigrants here illegally a target.
Instead, colleges can come up with procedures and guidelines for students and faculty to know their rights in the event that an ICE officer might arrive on campus to execute a search warrant, or search archives for records of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Colleges can also provide housing for students who are on visas or DACA status and are fearful that if they leave the country they won’t be able to return, Shuford said.
After the discussion, Galarza said even though he originally wanted Hood to become a sanctuary campus, he understood why it might not work.
“I think that would make anyone who is an undocumented immigrant feel like they’re a target,” he said. “I think it is best to let them have privacy.”
Galarza agreed that it might be a good idea for the school to develop some guidelines and policies for students. He also said there should be student representation involved in that conversation.
“I think helping in making guidelines, even something as simple as handing out ‘know your rights’ cards could go a long way in showing we support them,” Galarza said. “And I think student representation could help in developing those policies.”