Sanctuary Campuses

After the election of President Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, students at university and college campuses across the United States mobilized in anticipation of anti-immigrant policies under a Trump administration. On November 22, 2016, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) approved a resolution supporting the sanctuary campus movement. Much like sanctuary cities, there is no singular definition of what constitutes a sanctuary campus. To date, nearly 200 universities and colleges have circulated petitions in support of undocumented students, and at least five campuses have explicitly declared themselves to be “sanctuary campuses,” such as Oregon State University. While most campuses have chosen to only self-declare their commitment to protecting undocumented students, university and college administrations have attempted to clarify what existing policies and commitments are already in place.

The Pew Research Centre estimates that there are between 200,000-250,000 undocumented students on campuses across the United States. Since 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) implemented by DHS under President Obama has provided some relief for undocumented students:

“Because they had legal reprieve, students who had attained DACA status found it easier to find quality housing, get internships relevant to their field of study, and in some states, get driver licenses that reduced their commute to campus.”  – Mulhere, 2015

DACA’s status as a provisional policy directive though has left undocumented students worried about their future under President Trump. More than 600 college and university presidents in the United States have signed a statement supporting DACA.

Further Reading

Claire E. Parker, “[Harvard University President] Faust Outlines Plans to Protect Undocumented Students” (2016) The Harvard Crimson, online.

Faculty of Law, “Law in the Age of Trump – Panel Discussion” (2017) University of Toronto, online video.

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, “Report on The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Asylum Seekers” (2017) Harvard Law School, online.

The UndocuScholars Project, “In the Shadows of the Ivory Tower: Undocumented Undergraduates and the Liminal State of Immigration Reform” (2015) The Institute for Immigration, Globalization, & Education University of California, Los Angeles, online.


U.S. Department of Education (2015): Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth.

The College Board: Advising Undocumented Students