Update on Stanford’s support for immigrant community members

As the challenges facing immigrant communities continue to be a focus of discussion both nationally and here on campus, we want to provide a brief update on Stanford’s efforts to support all members of our community, regardless of immigration status.

First and most importantly: We continue to stand in full support of our international and immigrant communities at Stanford. Everyone in our community has a place here. Our mission as a university depends upon the presence and participation of people from all over the world, from all walks of life. We are committed to including, supporting and protecting all members of our community.

We have affirmed that commitment in many forums over the last few months – in communications to the campus, on the immigration.stanford.edu website, in comments at many meetings of the Faculty Senate, in town halls and open forums, and in personal meetings with concerned students and other individuals in our community.

Our core institutional commitments outlined earlier this year remain firmly in place. Among them: Stanford keeps student and personnel records private and will not share such information unless legally compelled to do so. Stanford provides services and support to members of our community without regard to immigration status. We treat undocumented students as domestic students in the undergraduate and graduate admissions process, including need-blind admissions at the undergraduate level. The Stanford Department of Public Safety does not have responsibility for immigration enforcement. Consistent with the approach of law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County, it does not inquire about immigration status in the normal course of its duties and will not participate with other agencies in immigration enforcement activities unless legally required to do so.

Like many universities, we have not adopted the “sanctuary campus” label. There are two reasons, both of them pragmatic and both of them aligned with our objective of supporting this community.

First, “sanctuary” is a term without clear, widely understood meaning beyond the commitments listed above. It suggests different things to different people, and declaring it may lead to inaccurate assumptions or impressions. Our goal, by contrast, has been to be clear about specific actions the university will and will not take. Second, making such a declaration invites scrutiny of members of our community, increasing the risk to them. We believe the better course is to focus on what we can do substantively to assist individuals.

In that regard, the university has been active on many levels. We have made available a range of legal, counseling and other support resources on campus for people with a variety of questions and needs. We are providing extensive information on the Stanford website, including campus contacts, “know your rights” information and other guidance. We have been actively engaged at the federal level, joining other university leaders in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and also advocating for policies such as the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that would place provisions of DACA into law. We have participated in court filings challenging the recent travel bans affecting international students.

Any Stanford student who seeks help with an issue regarding undocumented status can receive a free consultation from the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic of Stanford Law School. In addition, employees, family members and others with needs or questions regarding their immigration status can receive a free consultation from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, reachable at (650) 326-6440, which is a frequent community partner with our Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

As in all the university undertakes, we continually explore opportunities to improve our support operations. We are evaluating further suggestions from students in the Stanford Sanctuary Now group. We also have been in conversation with union representatives about the needs and concerns important to their members, and we welcome hearing input from all employees and employee groups about the questions and issues on their minds.

We will continue to provide updates and additional information on the immigration.stanford.edu website. If you have friends or colleagues seeking assistance, we hope you’ll help direct them there to get connected to support and resources. As always, we welcome your questions and comments and we welcome your contributions to sustaining and strengthening a diverse and inclusive community here at Stanford.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Persis Drell