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Hundreds walk out of Stanford classes, demand ‘sanctuary campus’

Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:49
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From SF Gate: More than 500 Stanford University students, faculty and staff members walked out of classrooms and ducked out of jobs Tuesday in a protest of the policies of Donald Trump, the latest in a wave of Bay Area and national demonstrations against the president-elect.

Some of the Stanford dissidents, though, came with a concrete demand for the university’s administrators: investigating the possibility of the Peninsula campus serving as a sanctuary against the sort of millions of deportations Trump has said he’ll seek as president.

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Hundreds of people — students, faculty, staff and other supporters — had as of Tuesday evening signed an open letter addressed to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost John Etchemendy urging the two leaders to “immediately develop a protocol for making itself a sanctuary campus.”

They join a growing number of schools calling for sanctuary status, all citing a 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo that curtails the ability of federal immigration officials to conduct raids without permission in “sensitive locations,” such as schools.

Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, have formally adopted policies for local law enforcement limiting their cooperation with federal immigration authorities when it comes to deporting individuals just for being undocumented illegal. The legal standing of schools to do the same is unclear, and there doesn’t appear to be a precedent.

Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for the university, declined to take a position, saying the school does “not know and cannot speculate about what laws or policies may be adopted in the future, or what the impact at Stanford might be.”

Emphasizing Stanford’s support for the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented students to attend the school and apply for citizenship if passed by Congress, Lapin added that “this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to free expression, diversity and inclusion.”

California passed its own version of the Dream Act in July 2011, granting undocumented students access to private scholarships to attend state schools.

Those involved in the walkout — which Lapin said had the university’s full support — left classrooms just before noon Tuesday, gathering at White Plaza for a series of speeches before marching through campus, chanting.

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, Trump said he would deport or arrest two million to three million undocumented immigrants illegal aliens, though adding that he would prioritize those with criminal records.

Lina Khoeur, a junior who walked out of class Tuesday, said an assortment of student groups, including her own Stanford Asian American Activism Committee, the Black Student Union, Stanford Students for Queer Liberation and other groups pitched in to organize the walkout.

It was less about decrying Trump and more about coming together as a community to plot a path forward for students who fear deportation, she said.  “In a lot of ways, this is a response directly to the election, but it’s not necessarily rooted in reactionary work,” said Khoeur, who is majoring in human biology. “A lot of the messages that were said today were around support and love and resilience and strength and continuing to move forward regardless of what happens.”

Regardless of whether a sanctuary campus would be legally binding, Khoeur said, “there’s a demand for Stanford to publicly announce that they are going to be in support of this community and publicly denounce hateful speech and actions around the world.”

Stanford administrators have as of late seen an uptick of reports of “people from a variety of backgrounds and across the political spectrum feeling targeted or silenced on our campus,” Lapin said.

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