Declaring UCLA a sanctuary campus to protect undocumented students is not only feasible – it is necessary. Public officials, institutions and democratic bodies must take proactive steps to oppose President Donald Trump’s administration and its attacks on immigrants and civil rights. Sanctuary declarations are the first step.
Trump’s administration has directly threatened UCLA’s undocumented students, international students, Muslim students and LGBTQ students.
Declaring UCLA a sanctuary campus would serve as a call to action for students and faculty to defend our diverse and international community against racist and bigoted attacks on our rights.
Shanta Driver, national chair of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, expressed this sentiment in an opinion piece in USA Today:
“America today is engaged in a historic struggle, testing whether the nation’s principles of freedom and unalienable rights can exist for millions of immigrants. Their freedom, their rights, are under attack. The Trump administration is conducting a racial purge, a campaign of mass deportations against America’s Latino and Muslim immigrant communities. Immigrants who have lived peacefully in America for many years are being driven from their homes and families. This unfolding human catastrophe is the single greatest threat to all freedom and all rights in our nation.”
During the first months of Trump’s administration, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has doubled the rate of deportations of immigrants without criminal records. These deportations affect immigrants who have lived in America for years, never committed any offense and have maintained regular contact with ICE agents.
But ICE is using these regular check-in visits to detain and deport immigrants silently, without raids. This extensive attack on civil liberties is one of the greatest challenges we face today – a challenge we have met proudly and strongly in California. In Los Angeles, 750,000 people shut down the city after Inauguration Day. Protesters later occupied Los Angeles International Airport to resist Trump’s infamous travel ban.
Given these events, UCLA cannot stand by idly.
Chancellor Gene Block cannot continue a cowardly policy of silence in the face of Trump’s attacks, which threaten the safety and well-being of hundreds of UCLA students and their loved ones. This is no time to be neutral nor hesitant when the world looks to UCLA as a leader to follow.
This is especially true when our own UCLA students do not feel safe. Chancellor Block’s email offering “emotional support,” in the face of possible ICE raids at our campus, revocation of international students’ visas and deportations of fellow Bruins or their families, is pathetic and unacceptable.
If all that Chancellor Block can do when the safety of students is at stake from the federal administration is to send an email offering “emotional support,” then he should resign. Resign and make way for someone who has the courage to stand with the student movement on our campus and across the country, to make our university a moral compass of progress.
As one of the most important public universities in the world, we will always be in the public eye. But we must do so while standing strong on the side of immigrant and international students and their families, who are under direct attack from the Trump administration.
If you live here, work here or attend school here, you are a citizen and should have the same rights as any other U.S. citizen. To all immigrant and international students, know that your very presences make America the home of the brave.
Fighting together, we’ll truly make America the land of the free. Join the movement to make UCLA a sanctuary campus and create defense networks to stop ICE raids, arrests and deportations. Vote for Nicole Corona Diaz and Gustavo Gonzalez-Ramos, who are running under the Defend Affirmative Action Party in the undergraduate students council election.
Corona is a first-year political science student who is running for Undergraduate Students Association Council general representative with the Defend Affirmative Action Party.