University of Maryland President Wallace Loh focused on inclusion and diversity in his State of the Campus address. He even said “the University of Maryland is absolutely committed to a safe and supportive educational environment.” He wants to increase the number of Latino and African-American faculty members and keep his promise to protect undocumented students. This editorial board commends him for supporting the movement activist student groups started; however, we call on Loh to match his words with actions and officially designate this campus a sanctuary for undocumented students.
In the current political climate, undocumented college students need the administration’s protection. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an executive order signed by President Obama that has temporarily solved a crucial aspect of the American immigration crisis and could expire when President-elect Trump assumes office. The legal procedures surrounding sanctuary designation are vague and vary from state to state, but even if Loh cannot designate this campus a sanctuary without state support, he needs to continue supporting the idea — and by extension, undocumented students themselves. He has the ability to influence university policy in this area; his promises to protect undocumented students’ information and to not work with state officials who may track undocumented students are just a start. This university is ultimately a state institution, and state institutions tend to bow to the governments that fund them.
This university’s Student Government Association is developing a bill to protect undocumented students. In passing this bill, the SGA would pressure the administration to “protect undocumented immigrants from federal immigration law or from being deported if they are caught on the campus.” Undocumented students have worked just as hard as students who are natural-born citizens to be admitted to this university and pursue an education. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether they will have the opportunity to finish and receive their degrees because the president-elect disagrees with the current federal
Other college campuses, including Ivy League schools such as Princeton University and Harvard University, both are asking university administrators to declare their campuses sanctuaries. This university could and should be leading the way on this important policy as soon as possible, perhaps even before Trump’s inauguration. Of all people, Loh — an immigrant himself — should understand and empathize with undocumented students at this time. This editorial board urges him to implement policy before it’s too late.