Avoiding the ‘S’ word: Brooklyn College vows to protect undocumented students — but won’t say ‘sanctuary’

Supporting their students: Professors Carolina Bank Munoz and Alan Aja helped write a resolution to make Brooklyn College a Sanctuary Campus, which would mean the school could legally protect undocumented immigrants from Trump.
Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn College has joined dozens of other universities across the country in vowing to protect students at the school who are living in the country without legal permission from the clutches of a new federal government hellbent on deporting them.

Just don’t call it a “sanctuary campus.”

That was the message sent by the City University of New York chancellor James Milliken in a carefully worded statement that avoided the contentious term, but still pledged to protect the thousands of immigrant students on city campuses.

The Midwood school garnered 400 signatures from faculty, students, and staff demanding the college declare itself and the entire university system a sanctuary, and the about 100-person faculty council voted 80–5 two weeks ago to support a resolution demanding sanctuary status be declared by the Chancellor.

Milliken responded this week that CUNY will “take any steps available under the law to protect and support its undocumented students” in a letter that also promises the university will not turn over student information to immigration enforcement authorities and will stop immigration authorities from coming on campuses without a court order.

But it falls short of declaring sanctuary status, which has upset some on the board.

“It’s good, but it’s also not enough, there’s always room for more growth. This is a tremendous start in that the Chancellor is acknowledging the need for a sanctuary status, and whether or not he uses the term is less important relative to what the institution does to protect immigrant students,” said Alan Aja, associate professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College. “I would prefer he use it given its meaning, given its history.”

President-elect Trump has already pledged to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities. As such, leaders of public universities such as Brooklyn College — which are funded by the city, state, and federal government rather than private endowments and tuition — may fear losing much-needed cash by coming out as sanctuaries, said Carolina Bank Munoz, a professor of sociology and head of the department.

“That word has become a loaded word and I think that there’s fear that if colleges are calling themselves sanctuaries, Trump could say, ‘Well all sanctuary colleges won’t get funding,’ ” she said. “We don’t know because we don’t know what Trump is going to do, and certainly he can’t just wave a hand and make it all go away.”

The City University of New York did not respond to requests for comment about its risk of losing funding.

But the fact students will be protected is all that mattered to Munoz.

“I don’t care what it’s called as long as at the end of the day we’re protecting students,” said Munoz.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Paul says:
Great - and is the next step to start protecting rapists and thieves? Why is it a good thing to help people violate the law?
Dec. 21, 2016, 3:02 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Because the bleeding hearts think they are running the underground railroad.
Dec. 21, 2016, 5:16 am
and what about from US says:
And what about US, citizens from the United States that are turned down by those very schools that house/protect undocumented students.

Hold those protecting the undocuments students accountable for their actions.

When your willing to give up your citizenship to legalize an alien, then you've proven yourself worthy. Till then, your an acomplice that denies citizens their right to the education of their choice.

Simple case and point.

Remember teachers, pratice what you preach, that for every action, there's an equal and greater reaction. Tag, your it!
Dec. 21, 2016, 11:01 am
Tyler from pps says:

"Simple case and point" -- umm... no. You made no case or point. What citizens are "denied" an education because of undocumented students?
Dec. 21, 2016, 11:10 am
Adamben from Bedstuy says:
Yes, let's have open borders and let anyone on the planet go to Brooklyn college. A fine plan indeed.
Dec. 21, 2016, 11:15 am
Paty from Park Slope says:
The racism and discrimination in these comments is disgusting. Unless you are native Americans, your family got here by being "undocumented" immigrants. Learn your history instead of listening to Fox or to candidates who pride themselves on being uneducated and stop spilling poison. Read the poem on the foot of the statue of liberty and stop trying to oppress others as a way of validating your own insecurities. The weakness of this country's values in the Trump era is shameful to the immigrants who were the founding fathers of the USA.
Dec. 21, 2016, 12:01 pm
Morris from Mill Basin says:
The anti-American, anti-immigrant scum who've commented above need to be tarred and feathered, kicked in their fat asses, and deported to Lower Slobbovia. I can tell you that any undocumented Brooklyn College student is worth twenty of the worthless garbage who hate them. These subhuman turds better not come to the BC campus or Mill Basin or I'll kill them and make America great again!
Dec. 21, 2016, 5:48 pm
Laurie from Williamsburg says:
Paty - my family emmigrated via legal channels to the US at the end of the 19th century. Every year we turn away and refuse millions who would like to live in the US. Those who would gladly break the law and skip the line don't deserve to be rewarded for doing so. Of course livining in Park Slope this just a theoretical scenario for you, as the only contact you have with immigrants is them working as your nanny or housekeeper.
Dec. 21, 2016, 6:53 pm
Laurie from Williamsburg says:
Also illegal immigrants aren't a race - they come in all shapes sizes and colors. You are a racist for assuming that only non-white people are illegal immigrants. There are many from Russia, Poland, etc.
Dec. 21, 2016, 6:54 pm
jim from kensington says:
Oh, but Laurie... the white ones are OK. Didn't you know that?

(The comments above are pretty sad. I guess we've always been a racist country, but when did we become a scaredycat country?)
Dec. 22, 2016, 10:28 am

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