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Columbia Releases Statement On Undocumented Students And DACA

Following Donald Trump’s presidential victory on November 8th, student concerns were raised about the safety of Columbia students who are undocumented immigrants. Trump has repeatedly threatened to repeal Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), an order that protects undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows them to work/study in the United States. Should DACA be revoked, immigrants who were protected (those who had arrived before they turned 16 years old and had no documentation prior to January 2012) would be at risk of deportation.

In the week following the election, Columbia students organized petitions to President Bollinger and Provost John Coatsworth, requesting that the university develop arrangements to ensure that undocumented students will be protected in the event of a DACA repeal and make Columbia a sanctuary campus.

At 4:33 PM this afternoon, Columbia University’s provost released a statement affirming that immigration officials would not be allowed on Columbia’s campus without a warrant, that student information would not be shared with officials unless subpoenaed, and that undocumented students would be afforded additional financial aid and support should DACA be repealed.

You can read the full email below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

The presidential election has prompted intense concern for the values we hold dear and for members of our community who are apprehensive about what the future holds.  Some of this concern is focused on possible changes to immigration laws and to the federal enforcement of those laws.  Some is due to possible changes elsewhere in federal law and policy.  Reports of bias crimes and harassment occurring since the election are also deeply disturbing, particularly so when those who feel threatened are part of a community like ours, committed to tolerance and reason.

President Bollinger has asked me to work with the University administration and our community to develop a response to these concerns.  I am writing to share information about relevant policies and our plans for ensuring that every person at Columbia feels safe, is able to proceed unimpeded with their studies and their work, and understands beyond question that Columbia’s dedication to inclusion and diversity is and will remain unwavering.

First, the University will neither allow immigration officials on our campuses without a warrant, nor share information on the immigration status of undocumented students with those officials unless required by subpoena or court order, or authorized by a student.  Moreover, New York City continues to be a sanctuary city, with special protections for undocumented immigrants, and Mayor de Blasio recently affirmed that local law enforcement officials will continue to operate consistent with that commitment.

If the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy is terminated or substantially curtailed and students with DACA status lose the right to work, the University pledges to expand the financial aid and other support we make available to undocumented students, regardless of their immigration status.  It is of the utmost importance that federal policies and laws do not derail the education of students whose enrollment at Columbia and other colleges or universities is made possible by DACA.  We subscribe to the view of the Association of American Universities that “DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded,” and we will continue to express that commitment in the future.

To provide additional support, the Office of University Life is hosting a series of small-group, private information sessions specifically for undocumented students in our community, including DACA recipients, to offer support and guidance regarding possible changes in the law.  Affected students can contact the Office directly for more information.  Separately, our International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is scheduling information sessions and is prepared to provide assistance via its telephone helplines to any of our international students with questions or concerns.  For more information about resources, support, and reporting options regarding discrimination and harassment, please visit the Office of University Life website.

The commitments outlined above emerge from values that define what we stand for and who we are as a University community.  Indeed, Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have amplified their commitment to undocumented undergraduate students pursuing their first degrees by continuing to meet their full financial aid needs as has long been our policy and also by treating applications of undocumented students no differently than those of students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  The experience of undocumented students at the College and Columbia Engineering, from the time they first seek admission through their graduation, will not be burdened in any way by their undocumented status.

This is a moment for us to bear in mind how important it is to protect all who study and teach in our community and to defend the institution and the values it embodies.


John H. Coatsworth


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  • Send 'em home says:

    @Send 'em home I dont understand; these individuals are clearly breaking the law. There is no gray area, theyre stealing. And, like a bunch of suckers, our tuition dollars are going toward subsidizing them.

    My family came here legally in the recent past, why cant these people? Are they too good for our laws?

    Cant wait for the damn wall.


  • Send 'em home says:

    @Send 'em home N.B. I will absolutely snitch to INS on ANY CU student here illegally. More money in my pocket – simple economics.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why does the university have tons of money to support illegal and undocumented students, but not people born here? Shouldn’t we take care of legal people first? This is insane.

    1. Read the website says:

      @Read the website 1) The University already does that. CC and SEAS are already need-blind (and full need is met) for US citizens, permanent residents, and refugees. (People often forget about the refugees but I thought I’d include them since I know you’re probably a big fan, too.)

      2) “Legal people” is not a concept. A person cannot be illegal.

  • M. Cameron says:

    @M. Cameron I’d like to say the school isn’t doing enough, but looking at the seriously misguided hate in this comment section, I’ll say good on you Columbia! I hope that if more must be done to protect your most vulnerable students, you will rise to the occasion. God bless.

  • M. Bliss says:

    @M. Bliss Why some of you are so heartless?? These students under DACA didn’t commit any crime, they were just brought here at young age and how is that their fault? Before one is qualify for DACA, you have to get a background check done and if you have any criminal record then you won’t be approve. You all need to chill out and understand how tough things are for them.

  • Sympathy says:

    @Sympathy They are just angry because they can longer compete in a lopsided system. They have the advantage but they still fall short, no pity for you guys. You all scream and cry about unemployment and money going to others but all those idiots don’t want opportunity they want jobs to be brought to them and apparently they want citizens to be admitted without earning it, talk about entitlement.

  • dacastudent says:

    @dacastudent I’m a DACA student, not at Columbia but at another school. I honestly can’t put into words how much statements like this mean to us. People are really worried right now- so many kids are going to have their lives ruined if DACA gets repealed. That someone remembered us during all this is very comforting.

  • Andrea says:

    @Andrea I’m a DACA recipient and I go to a university in NJ, I’d like to first let you know that ignorant comments like the first two posted above are the reason why this country is crumbling down. From personal experience I can say that I pay out-of-state tuition and cannot receive financial aid because I have DACA status (the only way for me to get help is getting a scholarship). DACA doesn’t provide government aid for students like me (at least in NJ) however the only benefit I have from this is letting the government know that I have a clean background and because of that every two years I can pay and reapply to have a work permit (all I see myself do is work continuously to earn a degree to advance in the current job I have-which I got climbing up the ladder with hard work, I went out looking for jobs and thankfully have never looked for government aid or unemployment). For those that are able to get help for college while having DACA take advantage and work hard on your degrees. All of us need to stop this popular ignorance, this lack of interest in the real struggles, the sudden need to follow lies and misinformation that is emerging from everywhere… Please be kind, inform yourself – research and read for yourself. Do not let anyone tell you how things work, be smart and respect others… your rights end when you cross over and end someone else’s with ignorance and arrogance… So learn to respect yourself and you will see how doing so for others is second nature.

    1. K. says:

      @K. But, you being here still exerts negative externalities… for starters, why is it fair for you to work here after coming to this country through improper channels while international students that immigrated through proper channels (like F1) have to fight tooth and nail for H1-Bs. Whether you like it or not, you are directly the reason why some international student who paid FULL tuition – no scholarship – can’t work here. All because he or she decided to play by the rules like a chump. You, on the other hand are laughing all the way to the bank. The hypocrisy is disgusting. Immigration is a zero sum game.

  • Francisco J Ortiz says:

    @Francisco J Ortiz It’s very simple. For the DACA recipients, we get it- you work hard and you want to study. For the international student applying for H1-B Visa, we also get it- you’ve got a skill in a highly sought after trade, and you want to put it to use in the US of A.

    This is where it gets tricky, and the news has a lot to do with this. We can agree (a fool would disagree) that the media outlets are liberal. Case in point, when the election was rolling, Trump was on everybody’s dirty list (for lack of better terms) and Hillary was the preferred candidate. Easy, to tell right? Well, this is no different.

    The news will show you the kid living in California with his parents working a full-time job while also juggling school. They’ll interview the kid and the kid will tell you the same story- “I work hard, I’m not to blame because I was brought here as a child, and so I deserve a better future because I’m not guilty of being brought here illegally.” What the news won’t show you is the Pakistani kid who graduated at the top of his computer engineering class who filed (and dreams) for a work visa so he can also provide himself and his family with a better future. One kid is in America, the other halfway across the world.

    Which ONE of the two is most deserving of the “better” future?

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