Students Across the Country Demand Sanctuary Campuses: Schools Should Be Safe Zones from Fascist Attacks—No Matter What

December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


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Students at colleges and universities across the country are raising the just demand that their schools declare themselves sanctuary campuses—places where undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT people, Black people, and others targeted by Trump-ite fascists would be protected. Trump has threatened, among other anti-immigrant steps, to immediately cancel two measures signed by Obama that temporarily removed the threat of deportation from some youths who arrived in the U.S. as young children and some adults who have children born in the U.S. The program lured more than 700,000 youths into signing on to government databases—and among them are students at campuses around the country, now vulnerable to attacks from the government as well as fascist mobs whipped up by Trump.

On Wednesday, November 16, thousands of students at more than 100 schools walked out of classes, held rallies, and marched around campuses and through city streets demanding that their schools become sanctuaries where undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, and others are protected. Students were called to action via social media hashtag #SanctuaryCampus. Campuses where student walkouts took place included NYU and Columbia in New York City; other Ivy League universities like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Brown; Notre Dame; Stanford; University of Southern California; Oregon State University at Corvallis; University of Memphis; Rutgers in New Jersey; University of Michigan; Oberlin in Ohio; and Middlebury College in Vermont.

There was another #SanctuaryCampus protest call for Thursday, December 1. We are trying to learn more about those actions (and we encourage readers to send us reports on these and other resistance—send to Among the protests on December 1 were actions by students at three campuses in Texas. In Denton, north of Dallas, about 150 students at the University of North Texas and 100 at Texas Woman’s University walked out, rallied at their campuses, and then marched and joined together at Denton Town Square. At Texas State University in the Austin area, students from a coalition of groups rallied at the campus quad. Students at these and other campuses nationwide are also organizing petition campaigns to put forward their demands for sanctuary campuses to school administrators.


On the same day, December 1, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, sent out a threatening Twitter message: “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.” According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a Georgia legislator is pushing a bill to defund any schools that declare themselves sanctuary campuses.

In response to the student protests and demands, some schools have declared themselves sanctuary campuses, and others, while not using the word “sanctuary,” have made public statements saying they are committed to following Obama’s executive order deferring deportations for hundreds of thousands of youths (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA). The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities issued a similar statement.

These statements by school administrators generally say that they are committed to not handing over information on the citizenship status of any students and not allowing any law enforcement to come on campus to arrest undocumented students—unless they have a court order, warrant, or subpoena. This caveat about a court order or subpoena is not right. Whatever the intentions of those who are putting this forward, it is a slippery road to collaboration with fascists.

If you were in Nazi Germany, should you say you won’t hand over Jewish people you were protecting to the Gestapo unless they had a subpoena from a court? Or if you were in the slavery-era South, should you say that you wouldn’t hand over a runaway slave you were sheltering to slave catchers unless they had a legal order? NO! You should not. Throughout history, no meaningful change for the better has ever come about by people staying within the bounds of unjust, oppressive laws. Look at the courageous students and others who deliberately broke the Jim Crow laws, or the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s that defied and obstructed the U.S. government’s attempts to deport immigrants, just to name a couple of examples from this country.

Colleges, and everyone else, should say that they will stand in the way of any white supremacist, America-First fascists—whether officially from the government or in the form of mobs—coming after undocumented immigrants and others, NO MATTER WHAT.


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