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November 20, 2016

Over 1,000 Cornellians Petition University to Become Sanctuary for Undocumented Students

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As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 1,500 students, faculty and alumni have signed a letter — publicized Friday at 4 p.m. — demanding that the University’s administration make Cornell a “sanctuary” for undocumented students.

Citing the University’s “any person, any study” motto, the letter’s authors expressed concerns for students’ safety in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, saying Cornell has a responsibility to “maintain an environment in which all of our students can learn without fear.” The president-elect has repeatedly vowed to take action to deport millions of immigrants.

“We ask that you honor Ithaca’s tradition of being a place of sanctuary as well as Cornell’s historical roots in the abolition movement, by making an unequivocal statement of support for undocumented persons and their families,” the letter says.

The letter — drafted by over 20 Cornell faculty and staff members with the support of many others — was written after faculty expressed concerns about “disturbing developments” in rhetoric toward marginalized groups after the election, according to Prof. María Cristina García, history and Latino/a studies, one of three media contact representatives for the letter.

Faculty held a meeting last week to discuss “how we might respond as private citizens and as faculty,” García said.

“The letter is an immediate response to convey to our students and colleagues that we care — and that they are not alone,” she said. “Over the next months — and years — we will have other meetings to discuss what we can do to protect the safety, privacy and intellectual freedom of our students and colleagues.”

The letter asks the administration to release a statement denouncing violence and hate speech directed at immigrants, as well as provide legal and counseling services for Cornellians affected by new government policies.

The document also requests that the University guarantee funding for undocumented and international students, raising concerns about Trump’s promise to eliminate executive actions like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — a policy enacted by President Barack Obama that allows immigrants who came to the country as children to live and work in the United States.

Finally, the letter asks the administration to make the campus a space safe from U.S. immigration officials and refrain from releasing “information that can make students vulnerable.”

“We cannot evade our responsibility to the present and the future,” the letter continues. “We ask you to stand on the right side of history.”

García said faculty were “not surprised” at the overwhelming support the letter has received from Cornellians.

“We expect many more will sign in the days to come,” she said. “We are a caring community — Cornellians disagree about a lot of things, but we value safety and respect intellectual freedom.”

Involved faculty will meet Monday to discuss when to deliver the letter to the administration, she added.

The letter was inspired in part by the actions of several other universities — including Yale University, Tufts University and the University of California, Los Angeles — which staged walkouts and published letters last week as part of the sanctuary campus movement, according to García.

At Brown Uni­versity, a similar movement was blocked when administrators responded to a request for the university to become a sanctuary, saying that the college would not have the legal authority to protect undocumented students or defy federal mandates.

“While we wish we could offer absolute protection to members of our community who are threatened by possible changes in policy, it would be irresponsible to promise protections that we cannot legally deliver,” the university’s president and provost wrote.

  • bob young

    as an alumnus this would be the dumbest thing Cornell could do. We have laws and they must be enforced equally, even for sHrillary.

  • bob young

    BTW the right side of history is to syand on the side of the laws that we have. Afterall we cant all be lawless like obama or sHrillary

    • Old sport

      Rosa Parks might have something to say about “standing on the side of the laws.”

      • i dont care

        no offense but i dont let dead people aid my decision making.

  • Cu

    Cornell had an acceptance rate of something like 10%. What acceptance rate is proposed for refugees? Greater than 10?

    Btw, will there be a cry in at Cornell today for the four police officers shot over the weekend? My guess is they were shot by Trum supporters (who we all know from reading the media are violent thugs).

  • trey

    Suppose a campus decided it wanted to be a sanctuary for people who committed crimes against minorities. Is that OK?

  • Cornellian

    The comments posted thus far underscore why the university must continue to protect those under attack. We respect your constitutional right to disagree with this petition but we urge you to do so with civility. I know it’s easier to ridicule and hate than recognize our common humanity but why don’t you at least try?

    • Abe ’16

      It is not hateful to want the laws of the nation enforced. Advocates for this petition will be actively encouraging Cornell to ignore the law. That is not a premise on which our nation has been built. It has nothing to do with hate.

      • Cornellian

        You can make that point with civility, as you just did, without insulting those who hold a different opinion. Hopefully, Cornell will offer us many opportunities to have a conversation about these and other issues. The petition isn’t just about protecting the undocumented–although they are a big part of it. We want everybody to feel safe…including you, if you come under attack.

    • Jason

      Civility .. good lord.

      The definition of civilization is an advanced society..i.e. .law and order.

      What the school is advocating is the opposite of civilization but chaos and barbarism.

      Let criminals who had broken our immigration laws come to this so called sanctuary.

      Go ahead and leave your doors open in your home. In your cars and in your office .. let everyone see your passwords if you believe in this sort of justice system. Meanwhile, be sure to pay for the meals of the people who come into your home and that they have clean sheets too. ..oh and clean up after them too Mr. Civility.

      After that, read Atlas Shrugged.

      Thank god for Trump – a president who believes in our constitution and law and order.

      • Bourne

        Sounds like you want authoritarianism. Good luck with that.

        • Abe ’14

          Advocating for the democratically passed laws of the nation to be enforced is completely different than advocating for authoritarianism.

          If a police officer came up to me tomorrow and told me to commit a crime, I would not do it because the officer has no right and no mandate to give that order. If the police officer pulls my car over and tells me to get out of the vehicle, then I’m going to comply.

          • Bourne

            well, good for you, Abe. Glad to know that you don’t subscribe to the Trumpian “cult of personality”. Since you comment so much, I look forward to reading your criticisms of the new administration.

          • Alum

            Don’t do that. If a police officer tells you to get out of your vehicle without probable cause, you do not have to. If you exit the vehicle, you have then given the officer the right to search your car, including the trunk and glove compartment. Know your rights. Don’t blindly follow unsubstantiated orders.

            Also, law and order is just a dog-whistle term for unlawful search and seizure and profiling of minorities. Don’t believe it.

  • Abe ’14

    1. Alum, you are wrong on that. They still have to be given consent to search your car without PC. This is clearly illustrated by SCOTUS precedent.

    2. Bourne, I will very happily criticize the new administration when it does something with which I don’t agree. I am a conservative, so I imagine Trump will give me plenty to complaint about. Naming Rudy G as Secretary of State would be of those things.

    So far, I am happy with his appointments (as almost all conservatives are), am wary about his potential protectionism tendencies, and am hopeful about his views regarding immigration and sanctuary cities.

    Trump wasn’t my candidate in the primary, but I voted for him because he’s going to appoint people to the right of whom Hillary would have appointed, and he is going to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court that will also be to the right of whomever Hillary would have appointed. When he fails to do these things, I will criticize with vigor.

  • Abe ’14

    Alum: the case is Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977).

  • Cornellian

    Abe, the fact that you are not concerned by Trump’s sexism, racism, xenophobia, mocking of the disabled, etc., is disappointing. Clearly, it wasn’t a “deal breaker” for you–and for other Republicans–which is why Republicans have lost all credibility (and I say this as a former Republican). That you are not angered by the appointment of Bannon, Sessions, etc shows a lack historical literacy.

    • Abe ’14

      I am not angered by Sessions. He was accused of making one racist remark 30 years ago. Since then, he has prosecuted KKK leaders, he worked to desegregate schools in Alabama, and he has great relations with civil rights leaders. No one can find a single instance of demonstrated racism since 30 years ago.

      Bannon is scarier. He’s certainly not an anti-semite. There’s nothing except for accusations made in a divorce proceeding. But if you search and scan Breitbart (as I have), as well as Bannon’s previous remarks, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything anti-semetic or anti-Israel. The “renegade Jew” headline, for example, comes from David Horowitz, who is a Jew and a STAUNCH supporter of Israel. It takes reading the article to understand the context.

      But I’m not angry with the appointment. He was a huge part of getting Trump elected, I understand why Trump chose him. We’ll see what happens.

      I won’t get into the merits of Trump’s sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc. He obviously said a lot of ludicrous things on the campaign trail. But you ignore Hillary’s history of corruption and lies. So if Trump were at a 100 on my horribleness scale, and Hillary were at an 80, well, relatively speaking, it’s easier to get over that -20.

      But ultimately, it’s the leftist culture. The safe spaces. The cry-ins. The name-calling. The nerve to call someone “bigoted” if they disagree with the need for transgender bathrooms.

      I’m not going to rehash the details of these points. It’s fruitless, especially on comments forum. But just remember that Republicans aren’t the only people who voted for him. He turned counties that voted for Obama twice into Trump counties. The Democrats should be using this time to try and figure out what went wrong and why they couldn’t see this coming. I know many who are, and they’re going to be the ones that I’m most worried about in the future (because they actually stand a chance of putting the party back into its proper place). But if you think Keith Ellison is the answer or if you just want to reduce the results of this election down to “everyone is racist,” well, you’re very misguided.

  • Break Laws If You Don’t Like Them?

    You have got to be kidding me-on what possible grounds could a university stand to intentionally interfere with any federal law? It is reckless for the faculty and staff drafters of this letter to “demand” that Cornell take a headline-grabbing, aggressive stance to be heard on any issue. And it is wrong to muddle the legal boundaries of activism by suggesting to the student body that refusing to abide by our laws is an acceptable means toward anything or an advisable way to live one’s life. The fact that the Mayor of Ithaca has already announced that he will refuse to enforce any federal law is shocking as well. This is all very disturbing rhetoric – choose which laws you will follow and interfere with/refuse those you don’t like? By all means, work within the legal processes upon which our democracy was founded towards whatever change you believe in. but don’t sacrifice your community along the way.

    • acturg

      Agree … such a stupid stance by Cornell.
      Seriously … “break the law”.
      Are you kidding Cornell?

      The “elitist” educational slant at Cornell and other Ivies is getting soooo out of touch with mainstream America.

      While they are insulated by value of their brand, I can only hope that other alumni will cease making contributions until a more balanced perspective becomes more prevalent on campus.

  • CU alum

    Undocumented means illegal, as it violates immigration law, and in this country we must only resort to law to handle illegal cases. Anything that defies law and order, even in the name of goodwill, should be not permitted, otherwise there will be lawless chaos. The university has an obligation to educate these young citizens to understand the real world, to behave responsibly, not like spoiled and clueless children.

    • Tina

      According to your logic, civil disobedience is never acceptable. Just because it’s “the law” doesn’t mean it’s moral or just. Many of the rights you and I now take for granted are the result of civil disobedience that led to policy changes. We are happy to support our Muslim, LGBT, and DACA classmates. That, too, is the “real world.”

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