GSO proposes resolution to make SU a sanctuary campus

Syracuse University is joining the national conversation about protecting DACA students.

After working with English Second Language (ESL) community members in San Francisco, immigration has been on Walter Donner’s mind. Following President-elect Donald Trump's win and his comments about deporting millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally, Donner knew he had to take action.

Donner, a graduate student in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, is a Graduate Student Organization (GSO) senator who proposed a resolution for Syracuse University’s administration to protect SU students who are in the country illegally. His goal is for SU to join universities across the country who have vowed to protect students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) by becoming "sanctuary campuses."

“Protect DACA students that are part of our community. Give them the means to continue their education,"
- Walter Donner, GSO Senator

“Protect DACA students that are part of our community,” Donner said. “Give them the means to continue their education should they be deported.”

Sanctuary campus is a broad term. There are different options a university could take to be considered a sanctuary campus, from refusing immigration officers to enter campus without a warrant to providing deported students an opportunity to complete their degrees online.

Donner said he is in favor of the university's administration refusing to help immigration services.

“What we don’t want to see is an immigration service going to DPS and saying, ‘Find these students,’” Donner said. “We think that DPS should focus its effort on security of students, not deportation of students.”

Not all students agree with Donner. Tyler Rossi, a junior in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, said you have to look at the whole picture.

“You have to take into account what [the government] could do for funding, reputation,” Rossi said. “If the campus is violating federal law, you have to be careful of how you have a relationship with the authorities.”

Rossi’s main objection to sanctuary campuses is that federal laws should be followed. In his eyes, the federal government has a right to know who is in the country legally or illegally.

“This isn’t to be bigoted or xenophobic. I care about everyone that goes here,” Rossi said. “Hopefully deportation isn’t the answer for students, but ultimately, it’s a violation of the law.”

Rossi said he would consider running for a position in the GSO in order to have his voice heard in opposition of SU becoming a sanctuary campus.

In an email to students last week, Chancellor Kent Syverud expressed a continued support for DACA students.

“We are sending a clear message that the student experience here at Syracuse University is, and will continue to be, shared broadly and equally,” Syverud said. “I feel strongly that all students must feel welcome, safe and supported.”

Despite the controversy, Donner will continue to push for dialogue about sanctuary campuses at SU.

“We want to have this conversation because there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction as to what sanctuary campus means,” Donner said. “It’s necessary to have a conversation instead of knee jerk reactions to the name sanctuary campus.”

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