Affirmation of Support For Community Members Regarding Immigration Enforcement | Earlham College

Affirmation of Support For Community Members Regarding Immigration Enforcement

December 12, 2016

Editor's Note: The following is a statement from President David Dawson.

In reaction to the recent national election-related political discussion concerning immigration enforcement, fears and concerns are arising in our community.

The leadership of Earlham College, including the Board of Trustees, would like to explain how the College is responding in this environment and highlight ways in which the College will continue to protect and care for its community members.

In particular, I want to affirm that Earlham will continue to follow our current policy of requiring a warrant before accommodating the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) agents, or other local, state or federal law enforcement authorities, on campus. Furthermore, we will continue to protect student privacy to the fullest extent under the law, and we will continue to provide support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students.

Like many of you, we have followed media reports of calls at many institutions to become “sanctuary campuses.” While this term may have any number of different meanings depending on the individual campus at which it is used, it does not yet have a clear legal definition, and therefore a formal declaration of status as a “sanctuary campus” would be premature. Nevertheless, we believe that the term reflects goals consistent with Earlham’s long-standing values of respect for diversity, inclusion and human rights, and this message is written in that spirit.

The College also has taken several initial steps that reflect the spirit of the sanctuary campus movement, as well as Earlham’s own Mission Statement, which makes clear that Earlham seeks to carry out its education “with a concern for the world in which we live and for improving human society.” For example, on behalf of the College, I have recently signed two documents:

I have joined over 100 presidents from institutions belonging to the Annapolis Group, comprised of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, in calling on President-Elect Trump to “reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination.”

I have also supported a message, signed by over 450 college and university presidents, that challenges the new administration to continue, uphold and expand the DACA Program.

In addition, we have confirmed the following three important points that we hope will provide some reassurance to our own community:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seeking to enter the campus are generally already required to produce a legal warrant. Earlham will continue to insist that they do so.
  • Current ICE policy specifically includes college campuses among its list of “sensitive locations” where ICE officers and agents are expected to make substantial efforts to avoid unnecessarily alarming communities through certain immigration enforcement actions within these locations such as arrests, searches, and surveillance activity. While this policy does not categorically prohibit lawful enforcement operations, it strongly discourages such actions unless the purpose involves national security, terrorism, or imminent public safety risks, or in the absence of voluntary consent.
  • The College will continue to protect student privacy rights through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and privacy rights for all employees through laws, policies and standard practices that inform the employer-employee relationship. The College will continue to protect all of these rights to the fullest extent possible under the law.

At Earlham, we believe in and are committed to supporting the dignity and worth of each member of our community. We will continue to offer admission to students who meet our criteria for admission, regardless of their immigration status, and, upon their enrollment, to support them so they may have every opportunity to obtain the highest quality education possible consistent with the College’s mission and values. 

If students or employees have particular concerns or questions or are in need of particular kinds of support, we urge them to contact the College’s Center for Global Education. This office stands ready to assist and/or make necessary referrals for resources and support with full respect for confidentiality and all available protection of privacy.

At this point there are many unknowns regarding how the federal government under new leadership will engage matters of immigration enforcement. The College will continue to monitor developments and respond as appropriate.

— David Dawson
President, Earlham College

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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