Superintendent-President Dr. Anthony Beebe and the Academic Senate agreed Wednesday that the college should continue to support its undocumented students but didn’t reach a consensus to declare City College a sanctuary campus.
Sanctuary campuses, deriving from the term “sanctuary cities,” are loosely defined by state-level bills. Generally, they refer to any institution of higher education that has adopted a policy of noncompliance with federal immigration officials.
Although the sanctuary campus movement has spread rapidly since the inauguration of president Trump, a number of schools
have also chosen to protect students’ legal statuses without taking on the title. City College has done just that.
The senate discussed the potential impact of declaring City College a sanctuary campus.
“Whether we do or we don’t, it’s really not going to change much,” said Dr. Raeanne Napoleon, senator for the Sciences Division. “If they’re coming, they’re coming.”
On the other hand, Beebe said that, by choosing not to use the term sanctuary, City College can minimize the risk of becoming a focus for the administration.
“The last thing I want to do is have Santa Barbara City College be a target,” he said.
Senator Danielle Swiontek, a representative for the Social Sciences Division, reminded the senate about the already risky environment undocumented immigrants are facing. She briefly shared the story of a young Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program recipient who was arrested last month for speaking out.
“I was initially one of those ‘we need to declare ourselves sanctuary’ [people], but we’ve seen the administration be really vindictive,” Swiontek said.
However, both Beebe and Napoleon agreed that calling City College a sanctuary campus would send a strong message to the local community and to the Trump administration. They said that it would be a clear “line in the sand.” Ultimately though, they agreed that the risks outweighed the rewards.
Although the main concern with embracing the title was the federal executive branch, some California representatives could also spark controversy. In January, State Rep. Duncan Hunter introduced the No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act. The bill would cut off funding to schools with sanctuary-like policies and require the Department of Homeland Security to keep a log of all sanctuary campuses.
A state-level bill, the California Values Act, would do just the opposite. Commonly called the Sanctuary State bill, the proposed legislation would require all public schools to adopt a policy of “[limited] assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible.” The bill recently passed in the state senate and is now going to the assembly for approval.
The bill passed in the state senate and is now going to the house for approval.
The academic senate will reconvene for its last meeting of the Spring Semester on Wednesday, April 26.
Correction: April 20, 2017
A previous version of this story implied that the No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act was a state bill. It also stated that the Academic Senate and Dr. Beebe reached a consensus to not declare City College a sanctuary campus. This edited version states that the No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act is a federal bill. It also states that the Academic Senate and Dr. Beebe did not come to a consensus to label City College a sanctuary campus.