US & Canada

US universities try to resist Trump deportation push

Immigrants Make America Great protest, Los Angeles, 18 February 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Trump's immigration policy has sparked protests in California

A California university has issued advice aimed at protecting undocumented students, as the Trump administration ramps up deportations.

Students at California State University have been urged to contact university police immediately if they are approached by immigration officials.

Several US universities are trying to resist potential student deportations - some using the term "sanctuary campus".

Mr Trump has announced tougher enforcement of immigration rules.

Former President Barack Obama focused on deporting only immigrants convicted of serious crimes, those considered threats to national security or those who had arrived recently.

Mr Trump's administration issued memos this week expanding the list of undocumented immigrants prioritised for "expedited removal".

Supporters say enforcing the law discourages further illegal immigration, which they say is too high and threatens security.

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'Incredible kids'

Wednesday's memorandum from CSU Chancellor Timothy White said the university would "continue to make every lawful effort to provide a safe and welcoming campus environment for all of our students", which, it says, include some who lack immigration documentation.

There has been continued concern about 750,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children, known as Dreamers.

Their deportation proceedings were deferred under the Obama administration programme known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca).

Mr Trump's presidential campaign website said he planned to "immediately terminate" the programme.

But since coming into office he has said he finds the subject "very, very tough" and intends to show "great heart" in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, "incredible kids".

The Department for Homeland Security made it clear on Tuesday that the new memos on enforcement do not affect Daca, but gave no detail on the programme's future.

Mr White's memo said some undocumented students at CSU do not even have Daca status.

He stressed the university would not help law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.

"Our university police departments will not honour immigration hold requests, and our university police will not contact, detain, question, or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being - or suspected of being - a person who lacks documentation," he wrote.

'No sanctuary from the law'

The CSU memo comes as students at Florida State University voted to request their university declare itself a "sanctuary campus".

Dozens of universities have come under pressure from students to follow the model of "sanctuary cities" - jurisdictions which have enacted policies protecting undocumented immigrants within their boundaries.

Officials in these designated areas, including local law enforcement, are not allowed to inquire about an individual's immigration status in the course of their duties.

Wesleyan University in Connecticut declared itself a sanctuary campus in November, saying it would "not voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to deport our students, faculty or staff solely because of their citizenship status".

But others have steered clear of the term, arguing it has no clear definition.

Also on Wednesday, the lower house of the state legislature in the state of Georgia approved a measure that would cut off funding to colleges failing to comply with President Trump's immigration policy.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, there is no sanctuary from the law," Republican Rep Earl Ehrhart, who introduced the measure, was quoted by local media as saying.

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