Petition calls on USC to become “sanctuary campus”

Trevor Sochocki | Daily Trojan Online organizer · Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, is one of the authors of a letter that asks USC administrators to declare the University a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, staff and their families.

Trevor Sochocki | Daily Trojan
Online organizer · Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, is one of the authors of a letter that asks USC administrators to declare the University a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, staff and their families.

An online letter asking USC administrators to declare USC a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, staff and family members has garnered nearly 3,500 signatures. The letter, which was addressed to President C. L. Max Nikias, Provost Michael Quick and Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry, follows numerous declarations by President-elect Donald Trump stating that he plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

The authors of the document include professors George Sanchez, Jody Agius Vallejo, Manuel Pastor and Oliver Mayer and El Centro Chicano Director Billy Vela.

“Immigrants and their children are a vital part of society,” the letter stated. “[Trump’s] policies will break up families, devastate communities, and have lasting consequences on the civic vitality and economic growth of our city, region, state and nation.”

The authors wrote that by becoming a sanctuary campus, USC will follow Mayor Eric Garcetti’s statement that Los Angeles will remain a sanctuary city in the case that the president-elect and his cabinet carry out deportations.

Noha Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in law, history and culture, said that she signed the petition because she views it as a protection of human rights.

“The right to an education and political amnesty is a human right that should not be contingent on a vote,” Ayoub said. “I firmly believe that people have a right to move freely in order to ensure their own safety even if that movement isn’t always ‘legal.’”

In a sanctuary city, there are policies in place that prevent law enforcement from prosecuting undocumented immigrants. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 1979, Los Angeles became the first city in the U.S. to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

The letter stipulates that by declaring itself a “sanctuary campus,” USC would not allow authorities to enter campus and would not report the immigration status of its students, staff and their families if asked to provide that information.

Quick wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan that USC values diversity among its students, faculty and staff, but did not state whether the University would accept the requests listed in the letter.

“We will continue to be guided by our Principles of Community, which affirms USC as a safe and compassionate place representing a rich diversity of beliefs, identities and experiences,” Quick wrote. “To that end, I want to assure the USC community that we will continue to uphold current law and University policies. We will consider any future changes with our community’s best interests at the forefront.”

Antoinette Bailey, a freshman majoring in Middle East studies and global studies, said she signed the letter because of the impact it would bear on undocumented students’ education.

“We’re in college, and there’s already so much we have to worry about: our grades, extracurriculars, careers, student loans — the list could go on and on,” Bailey said. “The last thing students need is to be burdened by fear of deportation when they have already long established themselves in this country.”

The letter concluded by quoting an email that Quick sent to the student body following the outcome of the presidential election. Quick stated that “all of us are responsible for creating a university community of inclusion, equity, and justice,” and the organizers of the letter said that this call to action can be honored by declaring USC a sanctuary campus.

Lynn Wang, a junior majoring in environmental studies, said that the petition’s existence is progress within itself.

“At the very minimum, this has started some discussion regarding this topic,” Wang said. “I hope that this letter starts conversation about the resources available to undocumented students.”

5 replies
  1. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    This is so ridiculous. Democrats (particularly those in California) live in such a bubble and are totally out of touch with reality, the law, and much of America. Don’t Democrats understand that they didn’t lose this election because their message wasn’t presented broadly or clearly enough…. they lost the election because their message was REJECTED.

    There should be NO sanctuary for someone here illegally. Period. I am a first generation immigrant myself. My family came here legally, through tremendous financial sacrifice. What a total insult to people like myself when we reward or support those who choose not to follow the law.

    The FACT is that the United States has some of the most generous and welcoming immigration policy in the world. Most nations don’t even come close in their acceptance of new immigrants. Thousands upon thousands of new U.S. citizens are sworn in each year. Ironically, the vast majority of those new citizens are Hispanic or Latino… yet, Hispanics and Latinos are the most vocal in complaining about our immigration system. It’s quite disgusting really. Shameful in fact.

    As a young, first generation immigrant, I was not able to attend USC without adding my immigration information to countless forms (alien registration number, etc). It was a time when people here illegally acknowledged they were not in compliance with the law, lived humbly and quietly, understanding the limitations of their presence in the U.S., and acknowledging the consequences if they were caught. Well those days are apparently over. Illegal immigrants now have become militant, aggressive, dangerous, proud, and emboldened by policies of the Left. They march with signs reading “Undocumented & Unafraid” (if they’re written in English at all). They march with Mexican flags. They enroll in public programs, they get driver’s licenses, and yes.. they enroll in our schools. They totally bypass the laws… probably haven’t even heard of an education visa. They literally have no shame.

    Trump himself may be a clown, but his election is a sound rejection of the Leftist policies that have led to an emboldened illegal population in our country. Many in America are sick of it. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME. It impacts our society and communities in many ways that are not simply “positive”. And think about this: Illegal immigrants have children. Those children are U.S. citizens who are born into an untenable and precarious situation that is NOT the fault of America, but of their parents. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS SPLIT FAMILIES, NOT OUR GOVERNMENT. It all has to stop. Law and order must be restored, and we can not reward those in the country illegally with any sort of “sanctuary”.

    • JendaStenda
      JendaStenda says:

      i was two years working through the labyrinth of US immigration policies-process so I could land in america and attend USC with my green card. Trump says “a big beautiful wall…and a big beautiful door where (properly vetted) immigrants can walk through…”

  2. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    OK. Empathy and caring for the illegal immigrants who are having a tough time and often living in real fear of being caught and deported. Some also have fear of having families separated as some family members are legally in the US and some are not. Yes, a humane and decent action for people seeking a better life in our country, a beacon to many for centuries, including all four of my grandparents around 1900.

    But how to separate the coyotes, dangerous criminals, drug cartel members and so on from the decent immigrants? Yes, a small number, but how do we assure that we are not protecting them in the sanctuary?

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