This past Friday we received a timely and thoughtful letter signed by hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and alumni concerned about the well-being and future of students enrolled at UMBC under the Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative – which provides a pathway to work or college for undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and meet certain conditions.
We thank the authors and signers for their commitment to the values of our community and their profound interest in ensuring that UMBC campuses will continue to be inclusive and safe, especially for those who could be at risk if there are future changes in immigration policy and law enforcement. The letter specifically requested action to "make UMBC a sanctuary campus" and to develop measures to support and retain DACA students in the event that the initiative is cancelled or expires. We have begun working with University System of Maryland colleagues and will be working with campus shared governance organizations to better understand options available to us that are consistent with our obligations under State and Federal law.
In the meantime, we want to inform you of guidance the USM has shared regarding practices on its campuses, including UMBC.
USM and its constituent institutions affirm our commitment to provide all of our students a safe and supportive educational environment. While we continue to comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations and with lawfully issued subpoenas or court orders, we need not, and shall not, engage in the following activities:
- Permit immigration enforcement authorities to enter a campus for an enforcement action without a warrant unless there is an exigent circumstance (national security or terrorism matter, risk of death or physical harm, etc.) necessitating immediate action;
- Voluntarily partner with immigration enforcement authorities to assist with enforcement activities;
- Detain an immigrant at the request of immigration enforcement authorities;
- Request and/or share immigration information obtained in connection with a campus arrest; or
- Provide immigration enforcement authorities with student records without a lawfully issued subpoena or court order.
This guidance is consistent with UMBC's practices. In addition, our administration has been public about its support for undocumented students' access to public education. President Hrabowski has signed an open letter from college and university presidents nationwide, urging the incoming administration to preserve and expand DACA. The UMBC administration also publicly and vigorously supported the Maryland Dream Act, which enables undocumented high school graduates who complete at least 60 credits at a community college to receive in-state tuition at Maryland universities.
The immediate need of most students with concerns about immigration status is access to reliable information and support. Campus leaders have been meeting with numerous student groups to hear and respond to concerns. We are planning to share vetted information about resources and to expand capacity to address the needs arising in our community.
We will continue to monitor and attend to needs on our campuses, working in partnership with University Senate leaders and following guidance from the USM.