Sanctuary campus learn-in held to educate community


By Nayra Halajian

“Puget Sound has not declared itself a sanctuary campus,” the University website states, “but continues to be deeply committed to offering services and resources that help our students achieve their educational goals, including the provision of accurate and specific information regarding privacy protections and support for students.”

On Friday Feb. 3 from 12 pm to 3 pm, “Here to Stay: Sanctuary Campus Learn-In” was held in the Rotunda to discuss the current University policy for protecting all members on campus.

The Learn-In began with a reading of the names of the 36 interned Japanese-American Puget Sound students after Executive Order 9066 in 1942.  Four students from the University’s Asian-American Pacific Islander Collective (AAPI) recited the names. This executive order signed and issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II authorized the relocation in concentration camps of those of Japanese ancestry.

Following the reading, Amanda Diaz, President of Advocates for Detainees’ Voices, encouraged attendees to keep the history of internment in mind during this event, drawing similarities to the current political climate.

Those in attendance were then asked to chant and move to the SUB to gather more audience members.

Over a loudspeaker, Diaz stated, “The learn-in is a moment where we can all collectively share a space and figure out what we can do to protect those in our community that are personally affected by the Trump regime,” said Amanda Diaz.

Diaz then proceeded to read the story of an undocumented Puget Sound student that was too afraid to share her own story to those sitting in the SUB eating lunch.

“I was an American. I didn’t have an accent to my English. My life was here. My siblings and parents were here. I had been here since I was five years old,” stated Diaz on behalf of the anonymous student who lives in fear of her family being torn apart as a result of Trump’s recent executive orders.

After this reading, community members filed back into the Rotunda for the remainder of the Learn-In.

Following this, University student, Mauricio Mendez told his own story about how until Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he felt unmotivated and did not imagine attending university. DACA, however, provided him with hope.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website, DACA is a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2012 that allowed certain undocumented immigrants to the U.S. who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

Following Mendez’s story about DACA, a panel of students Lillian Wong, Jae Bates, Julia Lin, and Lindsay Hunt were brought up to explain the history of Japanese-American internment in Tacoma, and make parallels to the Jewish experience during World War II.

After, a professor panel made up of Professor John Lear, Professor Robin Jacobson and Professor Edwin Elias, looked closely at the history of the sanctuary movement in America, the specific executive orders that President Trump is attempting to enact, and an overview of DACA.

“Generally, sanctuary cities refuse to prosecute undocumented immigrants for violating federal immigration laws or use municipal police or resources to enforce national immigration laws. Most campuses, including our own, have rejected the term ‘sanctuary’ while adopting a variety of financial and noncooperation policies that rarely match the bolder ones declared by sanctuary campuses,” stated Professor Lear.

The final panel was made up of Tacoma community members and leaders Pastor Dave Brown from Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Rocio Chavez de Alvarado, Supervisor of Client Advocacy programs at the Tacoma Community House, and immigration lawyer Peggy Herman. They discussed what they have been doing, the problems they have encountered and encouraged students to get involved.

After each panel, time was allotted for a question and answer session, giving an opportunity for attendees to ask clarifying questions to those on the panel.

Attendees then got into working groups to discuss President Crawford’s statement and how it could potentially revised to ensure that all students are protected. This also included a conversation about what it means to label a school or city as a “sanctuary,” and how protective policies can be enacted without explicitly adopting the title of “sanctuary.”

“Part of the goal today is to be in conversation,” said Professor Jacobsen, “and to access information and share information in ways we can be aware about some of the historical similarities, differences, some of the policy details and be thinking in a critical way we can be engaged in these issues.”

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