President Donald Trump’s fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric against undocumented immigrants have dominated headlines since the start of his presidency. Undocumented students have faced policy change and other threats to their residency. Universities like USC need to provide better support for students and other community members affected by the administration’s actions. Currently, The University lacks resources for students to ensure they know their rights around Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and their presence on college campuses.
While several USC schools and campus cultural centers have resources and scholarships for students protected under the California Dream Act, the threat of ICE agents arresting undocumented individuals is increasingly pressing under the Trump administration.
ICE agents have little power on college campuses, but they can often take advantage of students who don’t know their own rights. ICE agents can enter public or private colleges’ public areas, such as parking lots, waiting rooms and dining halls, without prior notice, but they do not have the legal authority to stop, question or arrest anyone in such spaces. The only instance where ICE agents would have this authority is if they have a warrant signed by a judge.
Additionally, ICE agents do not have the legal authority to enter private spaces, like classrooms and offices, unless they have a valid warrant. There is no legal obligation for students to provide any information about themselves to one of these agents. ICE agents also have no legal authority to bombard students with questions or threats.
However, if a student voluntarily discloses that they are undocumented, ICE agents have the right to apprehend the individual regardless of whether or not they are on campus. For the most part, students are unaware of these rules and could easily slip up and put themselves in danger. Now more than ever, the University has a responsibility to help students prepare a course of action if confronted by ICE.
ICE agents often come to college campuses to present at career fairs and other recruitment events without the intent of detaining anyone. However, USC and other universities should shy away from inviting ICE to such events because they can cause anxiety and distress for undocumented students.
Fullerton College, a community collegeless than an hour away from USC, is a prime example of how universities should approach dealing with ICE. The school not only provides resources to students to ensure they know their rights when dealing with ICE agents, but also trains campus employees on how they should deal with ICE agents on campus. This allows students to be surrounded by advocates for their rights, easing any anxieties that come with being undocumented.
More educational institutions including USC should adopt training procedures similar to that of Fullerton College to protect undocumented students and their rights. The current polarizing and nationalist political climate is disheartening beyond belief, but there is hope in the people dedicating their work to protect undocumented students who are simply searching for safety.