UPenn President Won’t Comply with Federal Immigration Laws

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In her email sent on Wednesday, November 30th, University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann vows to not allow federal immigration authorities on campus except by warrant.

Around noon on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016, our undergraduate contributors at the University of Pennsylvania received an email from their president, Amy Gutmann. In the letter entitled “A Message to the Penn Community Concerning Our DACA and Undocumented Community Members,” the president outlines her plan intended to shield illegal students from federal immigration authorities.

The Ivy League university president promises to fulfill a number of goals, such as not allowing federal immigration authorities on campus (except by warrant), and continuing to provide financial aid to  and special advisors to serve these students’ specific needs.

See the full email below.

November 30, 2016

A Message to the Penn Community Concerning Our DACA and Undocumented Community Members

We write in response to the several inquiries and petitions that we have received regarding the University’s support for our Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students.  We are grateful that so many members of the Penn community have spoken out and communicated their support for our undocumented students. 

Let us be unequivocally clear: We are and remain resolute in our commitment to Penn’s undocumented students, and will do all that we can to ensure their continued safety and success here at Penn. 

As President Gutmann, who has long advocated for immigration reform, wrote in her recent letter to faculty colleagues, undocumented students “have grown up in our communities; they attended our schools; and they have both the strong desire and the impressive capacity to make vital contributions to our nation’s future economic strength and global competitiveness.”  At Penn, we are a richer campus for our inclusion and diversity, and our community benefits greatly from the presence of its undergraduate, graduate, and professional undocumented students. 

We welcome this opportunity to reinforce our support for the undocumented student community, including the following:

The University of Pennsylvania will not allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Customs and Border Protection (CBP)/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on our campus unless required by warrant.  Further, the University will not share any information about any undocumented student with these agencies unless presented with valid legal process.  We also endorse the City of Philadelphia’s Fourth Amendment practice that blocks City and campus police from complying with ICE detainer requests for nonviolent offenses.  Penn is and has always been a “sanctuary” – a safe place for our students to live and to learn.  We assure you that we will continue in all of our efforts to protect and support our community including our undocumented students. 

The University of Pennsylvania commits to ensuring current undocumented and DACA recipients will continue to receive financial aid, fellowship stipends, as well as any related support that is currently being provided, or that will be needed, for these students to complete their studies at Penn. We will continue to provide need-based Penn grant aid to undocumented students who apply as international students. As always, Student Financial Services (SFS) stands ready to assist any student who is experiencing a family financial crisis or a change of circumstance. Undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status will continue to be eligible for work-study positions. SFS will continue to assist those without DACA to find other forms of aid to replace work-study. The Student Intervention Services (SIS) team will also continue to support undocumented students in emergent circumstances.

The University of Pennsylvania already has a number of permanent staff who serve as advisors to support the specific needs of undocumented and DACA students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These advisors are familiar with the specific challenges of undocumented and DACA students; provide additional wellness support and student referrals to resources with a deeper understanding of their unique needs; act as liaisons between offices on the University’s campus such as SFS or the Registrar; and keep up to date with national policies regarding immigration that affect students such as DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).  These advisors are located in Penn Global, the Greenfield Intercultural Center, La Casa Latina and other offices.

The University of Pennsylvania will continue to advocate passionately for comprehensive immigration reform.  As Penn’s President and as a past president of the Association of American Universities, Amy Gutmann has repeatedly communicated to our nation’s leaders her support for undocumented students, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and the continuation and expansion of DACA.  The University will continue to forcefully speak out in support of these critical issues. 

We recognize that many in our community remain anxious about the future.  United, we will do everything in our power to ensure the continued security and success of our undocumented students.  It is times such as these when we must hold even closer our cherished Penn values of inclusion, diversity, equity and mutual respect. 

With deep respect and warm regards,

Amy Gutmann, President
Vincent Price, Provost
Craig R. Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

Henri Mattila is a co-founder at Merion West. He is currently an undergraduate at Cornell University where he studies applied economics and management. Henri was born in Helsinki, Finland and is an army reservist there. In addition to business development for Merion West, he enjoys writing about new businesses and topical political issues. You can contact him at henri@merionwest.com.

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