Penn, Trump's alma mater, becomes sanctuary campus for undocumented students

The University of Pennsylvania will not allow federal immigration authorities on campus unless they have a warrant, the University's President Amy Gutmann said in an email to undergraduates Wednesday.

The University of Pennsylvania will not allow federal immigration authorities on campus unless they have a warrant, the university's president, Amy Gutmann, said in an email to undergraduates Wednesday.

"The University of Pennsylvania will not allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) / Customs and Border Protection (CBP) / U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on our campus unless required by warrant," the email said. "Further, the university will not share any information about any undocumented student with these agencies unless presented with valid legal process."

Penn also endorsed Philadelphia's practice of barring city and campus police from honoring detainer requests from ICE for nonviolent offenders.

"The University of Pennsylvania will continue to advocate passionately for comprehensive immigration reform," the email said. It said that Gutmann, as Penn's president and past president of the Association of American Universities, "has repeatedly communicated to our nation's leaders her support for undocumented students, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and the continuation and expansion of DACA," President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. It said the university "will continue to forcefully speak out in support of these critical issues."

The announcement follows a declaration by President-elect Donald Trump, a Penn alumnus, that he would repeal DACA, which delays deportation for some undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors.

It also came on the heels of a letter to Gutmann from undocumented students, and a Nov. 16 petition signed by hundreds of students, faculty, and alumni, demanding that Gutmann make Penn a sanctuary campus.

"We're very excited to hear that the president has addressed the letter and the petition," said senior Silvia Huerta, an advocate for undocumented students.

She added that Gutmann's email suggests there is a sustained support system for undocumented students, but that Penn needs to do more.

Efforts to support undocumented students are growing nationwide.

To date, Reed College and Columbia, Wesleyan, and California State Universities have declared that they will not voluntarily cooperate with immigration officials.

As of Wednesday, more than 400 university presidents, including Gutmann, had signed a letter supporting the DACA program.

Leaders at more than 80 Catholic colleges, including St. Joseph's, Villanova, and La Salle Universities, published a letter Wednesday offering support for undocumented students, though none indicated that they would not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Penn senior Daisy Romero, a member of Penn for Immigrant Rights (PIR), acknowledged that Penn has generally been supportive of undocumented students but said many struggle to navigate the complicated policies that affect them.

PIR has scheduled a march at 2:50 p.m. Thursday on Penn's campus in solidarity with students seeking to have their schools declared sanctuary campuses.

rheilweil@philly.com

215-854-2771 @RebeccaHeilweil

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