The result of the U.S. election cannot be understood in isolation from the global context of migration and refugee flows. Fear and ignorance about what causes people to leave their communities, and about the effects this has in the societies they join are at the core of xenophobic reactions and policies that focus on exclusion and securitization rather than on rights, justice and shared accountability between countries of origin and destination. It is more critical than ever to think about the relationship of migration and mobility to fascism, racism and populism globally, and to take clear steps within our local communities in response to discourse and policies that put migrants and their families at risk due to their precarious status.
Dear President Van Zandt and Provost Marshall:
We write as members of this proud institution to request your immediate action in response to clear and present challenges presented by the presidential election.
As was clear after the hate crime committed on campus on Saturday night, the result of the presidential election cannot be understood in isolation from xenophobic discourse. Many members of our community are under direct threat by the discourse that President-elect Donald J. Trump embodies, and even more by the policies he has proposed. This is a time for responses and actions consistent with our mission to protect vulnerable minorities and fight for social justice. This includes taking a firm position not only on issues of tolerance and respect within our community, but also preemptive action towards looming policy changes that threaten our students and institution.
As representatives of research centers and academic programs that are directly concerned with global migration, together with the undersigned faculty, students, staff and alumni, we write to emphasize that undocumented migrants are a population directly at risk as a result of one of Trump’s campaign promises. This is not an abstract issue: his promise to increase deportations and end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program puts some of our students, staff members and their family members at risk.
There is currently a national movement led by students to assert campuses as sanctuary spaces. We support this movement and are writing to request that you proclaim the University as a sanctuary campus to protect our students.
An internal 2011 memo from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency shows that their officers are subject to certain restrictions upon entering college campuses unauthorized. This puts the University in a unique position, which it can and should use to protect undocumented community members from law enforcement. It is the duty of this University to ensure that it remains a place that actively protects the rights and safety of its community.
Just as in 2012 your administration agreed to issue a statement in support of the New York Dream Act legislation, today we ask the university to commit to making the university a sanctuary for those at risk due to their migratory status. In addition to such a statement, we ask the administration to create specific support networks for them on campus, and to widen the scholarship programs available for those who are undocumented and will now face even greater barriers to access financial aid. We also ask the administration to give serious attention to the circumstances faced by international graduate students, who often live in precarious financial conditions, and risk becoming undocumented if they cannot pay maintenance of status fees. The default effects on students’ visas when they cannot pay those fees implicates the university in generating undocumented status –a position that does not align with the university’s broader commitment to a progressive migration regime. More than ever, our university has to live up to the values that define our history, including our founding in response to the poisonous political climate at the end of the First World War and the legendary role of the University in Exile.
A guideline with specific steps that administrators, educators and students can take to support undocumented students is available here.
In response to Saturday’s hate crime, Julia Foulkes reminded us that “The New School has responded to hatred of people and fear of the challenges of difference and dissent before and will again.” Please act immediately to announce that we will open our doors to those at risk, within and beyond our university, and to defend what we stand for as a community with bold statements and actions.
The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility
The Global Studies Program
The New School Dream Team