Schapiro: University will not reveal immigration status of students, faculty, staff
January 30, 2017
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University President Morton Schapiro announced Monday in an email to students that Northwestern will not reveal the immigration status of students, faculty or staff to the federal government.
The announcement follows a statement Schapiro released Sunday advising against international travel for students from seven Muslim-majority countries targeted in a recent executive order by President Donald Trump. The executive order bars citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States for 90 days — a timeline that could be extended — and blocks refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days. It prevents Syrian refugees from entering indefinitely.
“At times such as these, doing the right thing matters more than ever,” Schapiro said in Monday’s email to students.
In November, thousands in the Northwestern community signed a petition asking the University to become a “sanctuary” for undocumented students, workers and their families. The University responded with a statement saying it is “strongly committed” to being a welcoming and inclusive place but did not make any promises about withholding information related to immigration statuses.
Schapiro also wrote in the announcement Monday that University Police will continue its policy of not detaining people based on their immigration status.
History Prof. Kevin Boyle was one of the original signatories of the November petition asking the University to become a sanctuary campus. He said he recognized the University could have faced backlash for taking such a political stance and commended Schapiro for doing so anyway.
“I applaud President Schapiro,” Boyle said. “He’s doing absolutely the right thing, and it’s a difficult thing to do.”
In making the announcement, Northwestern followed in the footsteps of the University of Michigan, which announced Saturday it would not release the immigration status of students.
Although Schapiro’s email represented a show of support for undocumented immigrants, there is still a need to provide more support for immigrant students, Weinberg senior Hayeon Kim said. Kim, co-founder and president of Immigrant Justice Project, praised services such as the International Office and Student Enrichment Services, but acknowledged their services do not always fit the specific needs of students with different immigrant statuses, including undocumented students.
Kim added that the University should provide more structural resources such as confidential and personalized advising or additions to the University website to be more transparent about financial resources for immigrant students.
As someone who does not identify with the countries targeted in the executive order, Kim said she could not speak on behalf of the students from those countries. Still, she said “no one likes to be excluded” and emphasized that there should be more concrete steps to provide support from the University.
“It’s a good sign the president is making a verbal affirmation of what’s going on and he kind of does his own part to make campus a little bit safer,” Kim said. “But I think in terms of actual resources, there’s a lot more to be done and what’s being said and what’s being done doesn’t always match up.”