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Sanctuary status would endanger our campus for all

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

President Donald Trump ran his campaign with one of the most radical immigration platforms in recent history. He promised not only to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, but also to create a deportation force and remove all current undocumented immigrants from our country. While he has since muddied the waters on this second proposal and suggested there may be some exceptions, this originally called for the deportation of nearly 11 million people. With such an extreme stance on immigration, President Trump’s election caused a sharp backlash from the University of Massachusetts community. Organizing under #SanctuaryCampus, UMass students broke out in protests in November. In fact, more than 600 students gathered at the Student Union in an effort to demand that UMass become a “sanctuary campus,” and not only defy but also actively resist federal immigration law. Petitions were circulated and hundreds of signed letters were delivered to Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

In response, Chancellor Subbaswamy sent out an email to the entire UMass community outlining the campus administration’s stance on immigration. He reiterated the fact that as it stands right now, the University takes steps to protect undocumented students. In fact, the UMass Police Department does not gather information about student’s citizenship or status, the school does not share private information about its students unless compelled to by a court of law and they provide attorney services to students concerned about immigration issues. However, many students are unsatisfied with these steps and have pressed the University administration to take further action, declaring UMass a sanctuary campus. This pressure has resulted in a recent movement in the Student Government Association. Monday night, student senators will vote on whether to endorse a letter from the student group “Sanctuary Campus UMass” and call upon Chancellor Subbaswamy to make this official declaration. However, in the view of this writer, it would be an enormous mistake for the administration to take these steps.

On the campaign trail in September, President Trump promised to “block funding for sanctuary cities…no more funding” in a speech given in Phoenix, Arizona. Unlike many of his campaign promises, this appears to be a promise he’s intent on fulfilling. On Jan. 25, the Trump administration drafted an executive order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” Buried within this order, in Section 2-C, the executive policy is established that “jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds.” While the exact implications of this policy are unclear, it could spell disaster for UMass if the administration adopted such a sanctuary policy, which would fly defiantly in the face of existing federal law.

To be clear, a very small percentage of UMass students are undocumented. Of those undocumented students, presumably even fewer have the type of criminal records that would make them priorities for deportation under the recent, watered-down stance that President Trump has taken – wherein he has promised to focus on deporting criminal illegal aliens. If UMass was to take steps to defy federal law in an effort to protect such a small group of students, the potential of losing some or all federal funding could be absolutely disastrous for all members of the UMass community, regardless of their legal status. Enormous portions of our student body depend on federal Pell Grants, subsidized loans or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants for students with “exceptional” financial need. Without these federally funded programs, many students would be driven even deeper into debt and some would be unable to continue pursuing their education altogether. With state funding increasing at modest rates at best, the University cannot endanger its community’s prospects by threatening their federal funding. While the exact portion of the University’s budget (beyond financial aid programs) that is funded by the federal government is not published, it is substantial. If the University were to lose a sizeable portion of its budget, it would result in harsh realities for our campus community. Whether it would result in cuts in staff and programming or in sharp rises in tuition and fees, the loss of federal funding, in a futile effort to shield an extraordinarily small subset of the student body from enforcement of the law, would be an enormous step backwards for the University that would adversely affect us all.

Bradley Polumbo is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at

9 Responses to “Sanctuary status would endanger our campus for all”
  1. Zac Bears says:

    There is no evidence that the president can restrict aid, and there is no evidence that the courts would allow it if he tried.

  2. ZigZag says:

    Sanctuary status is dangerous, but it is also costly. I’m still incredulous that leftists have been successful in conflating the immigration discussion in this country to include support for ILLEGAL immigration. How in the world are those the same thing? Someone in this educated community please edumacate me.

    The US allows many hundreds of thousands of LEGAL immigrants in every year. Why then is ANYONE in support of people teeming over our borders who come here illegally? Many of whom traffic in guns, drugs and humans. Not to mention an open door for eradicated diseases which are making a comeback? And the most vulnerable illegals, those that liberals purport to care about, are actually further victimized precisely due to this wink-nod open door policy.

    We need a sensible guest-worker program to replace our broken system. Build a wall, with a moat, armed guards and mines. Total moratorium 5-10 years. Assimilate how ever many of the 11 million illegals who are fit to stay here. Figure out which industries legitimately need outside resources and issue guest worker visas to the relevant countries. It’s all really pretty simple.

  3. A says:

    What actually endangers our campuses is actually–as the federal appeals court indicates–the xenophobic policies that have made a Sanctuary movement necessary.

  4. Steven says:

    As long as UMass is accredited, there is no legal framework for denying financial student aid. Like most of Trump’s other illegitimate executive orders so far, this one will be struck down by the courts.

  5. Ed Cutting says:

    Dream on, folks.

    Look up why Massachusetts has a 21-year-old drinking age, why all states do.

    And then ask yourself why UMass complies with Title IX…

  6. David Hunt 1990 says:

    @ZigZag. Because illegals especially, once legalized, vote “D”. If illegals coming over the border voted “R” the wall would already be there.

    This is why Imperius Barackus Rex changed the rules for Cubans – who have actual, real-world experience with Communism and thus vote “R” – as well as deporting 91 Cubans back to their Communist hellhole just before he left office.

    This is also why the Democrats betrayed the Vietnamese boat people… again, having real experience with Communism, they’d come here and vote “R”. Can’t have that, can we?

  7. A Wilson says:

    What are you talking about Hunt?

  8. elizabeth says:

    David hunt is trying to say that democrats support legal and illegal immigration because they largely vote for democrats so they have a vested interest in encouraging and allowing immigrants.

    The simple truth I would argue is not that democrats or liberals truly ‘care” or have “compassion” for immigrants, they are simply exploiting them for votes and this is the real basis and motivation for their policies on immigration.

  9. David Hunt 1990 says:



    You might enjoy this essay.

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