Palomar needs to become a sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrants so that they feel protected while getting an education.
Becoming a sanctuary campus would mean that the college’s Governing Board would pass a resolution stating officially that the administration will not report any undocumented students to the government or assist them in deporting those students.
There are roughly 1,000 undocumented students who attend Palomar, according to Jack Khan, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Many of whom feel that registering for and showing up to classes may put them at risk for deportation due to President Donald Trump’s recent crack down on immigration.
These students, regardless of their citizenship status or how they or their families entered the country, are here to get an education in order to obtain better jobs, provide a better life for their families and contribute to the economy and their community. Any anxiety preventing them from doing this needs to be alleviated by the college’s administration.
Currently, the governing board is considering a resolution that would do just that.
However, they’ve put off the action out of concern over the repercussions such as threats from the Trump administration and Republican Duncan Hunter, Palomar’s district congressman–who have said that he wouldn’t put in federal funding requests for schools, cities or states who declared themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.
Their concern is that making an official declaration would do nothing but put a target on the school’s back because in practice, neither the administration nor the faculty are currently reporting undocumented students.
However, many undocumented students don’t know this. Until the administration makes a clear and decisive statement on the matter, those students will not want to come to school.
About 4.5 percent of Palomar’s funding comes from the federal government. A majority of Palomar’s funding comes from state taxpayers and other sources of revenue. Even if Washington responded, the actual impacts on Palomar would be negligible.
What’s more important is that Palomar stands up for what the foundational philosophy of any educational institution should be: providing equal access to education for all students.
In becoming a sanctuary campus, Palomar would be far from alone. Colleges within the California State University system have unanimously declared themselves sanctuaries, as well as a majority of colleges in the University of California system. This has been a high priority for many other community colleges, including our neighbor MiraCosta College.
Palomar’s governing board can follow in the footsteps of these schools in paving a pathway for immigrant students to receive a unthreatened education as well as stand up for the students it claims to represent.