DECEMBER 09, 2016
Comparing immigration enforcement to “fugitive slave laws,” professors at a taxpayer-funded university in south Florida are demanding that the school protect illegal aliens by creating a “sanctuary campus.” Students at colleges around the nation have made similar requests to protect undocumented classmates after president-elect Donald Trump vowed to increase deportations and reverse an Obama administration measure that shields those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
But the Florida professors are blazing the trail as the first faculty members to officially call for campus-wide sanctuary in the aftermath of the presidential election. They work at Florida International University (FIU), a public institution with 54,000 students, more than half of them Hispanic. One of the professors, Asia Eaton, teaches psychology and women’s and gender studies and the other, Jason Ritchie, anthropology. Dozens of other university staff members also signed the document making the sanctuary demand. It starts off like this: “Like many people in South Florida, we were caught off guard by the election.” It continues to state that Trump’s victory “laid bare the pervasive racism and sexism that have limited the life chances of too many Americans for too long. As a nation, we cannot continue to sweep these problems under the rug.”
The professors reveal that they are “deeply worried about the dangers of a Trump presidency” to the well-being of their diverse student body. They specifically mention an Obama amnesty measure known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children “through no fault of their own” from deportation. In many cases, the so-called “dreamers” get driver’s licenses, work permits and discounted tuition at public universities such as FIU. During his campaign Trump said he would terminate DACA along with other Obama amnesty measures. The FIU professors point out that college presidents nationwide have determined that DACA is “both a moral imperative and a national necessity.” No further evidence is provided to substantiate that absurd claim, however.
As preposterous as this may sound, the demand gets even crazier when the professors compare the college sanctuary movement to safe havens that shielded individuals and institutions that refused to comply with fugitive slave laws in the 1800s. They refer to it as a tradition in the U.S. of providing safe-haven to vulnerable populations. “In that spirit, we call on our administration to declare Florida International University a sanctuary campus, develop a plan for protecting undocumented students, and refuse to cooperate with any efforts to identify, detain, or deport undocumented students, even if DACA is repealed or any other laws or policies change.” The document further alleges that students are “under attack” and they cannot remain silent.
Students—and some faculty—in dozens of colleges and universities around the country have asked that their fellow undocumented classmates be protected from immigration authorities, but administrations remain largely silent. In Illinois, many of the state’s public universities have been under pressure to declare themselves sanctuary campuses for illegal alien students but no official action has been taken. One of the state’s mainstream newspapers reported this week that the campuses have rejected the calls, instead outlining other (unofficial) ways they will offer protections. “The University of Illinois this week became the latest campus to dismiss the idea after thousands signed a petition asking school leaders to adopt the sanctuary label in an effort to protect undocumented students from being targeted for their citizenship status,” the article says. “A similar petition at Northwestern University also failed last month.”
Unrelated to this matter, but of interesting note is that two veteran FIU professors were convicted of spying for Cuba’s communist government over nearly three decades. The husband-and-wife duo, Carlos and Elsa Alvarez, got convicted in a Miami federal court in 2007. Carlos was sentenced to five years in prison for acting as an unregistered Cuban agent and Elsa got three years for harboring her husband’s illicit intelligence work and failing to report it to authorities.
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