Fil-Am student leads call to declare NJ school a sanctuary for illegal immigrants
Amid the apparent restlessness of immigrant communities in the United States following President Donald Trump's hardline policy on immigration, a Filipino-American student is leading a move to declare a New Jersey school a sanctuary campus for its undocumented students and faculty.
Karlito Almeda and four other Ramapo College students have come up with a petition to make the school's stance stronger against changes that will remove undocumented persons from the campus, a report on Garfield-Lodi Daily Voice said Wednesday.
Ramapo College was urged to continue its support for students covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should Trump revoke the policy.
Started in June 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the US as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
“This is something that I feel strongly about, especially because the very fabric of American society is based on immigrants and the notion of the melting pot,” Almeda told Garfield-Lodi.
Almeda, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines, further explained on NJ.com that Ramapo has a number of students who will be affected by the possible removal of DACA.
He stressed that Muslim and minority students have already felt the effects of existing changes to the US' immigration policies, as they "have felt threatened on campus" since Trump's election.
The Filipino-American student, the president of the Ramapo College Democrats, joined other student leaders in a unity rally calling for their school to become a sanctuary campus last Monday, according to The Ramapo News.
Ramapo College President Peter Mercer said in his State of the College Address on February 17 that while he is not opposed to the idea, declaring the college a sanctuary campus could pose a great risk to its funding.
“Declaring ourselves a sanctuary campus, which while it is a term not formally defined, could place us at risk of losing federal funding and, while we have a robust endowment, it is by no means sufficient to offset the resources our students receive from the federal government," he said in a statement.
He reassured students that "Public Safety will not inquire nor record the immigration status of students or other persons" and that their status has "never been and will never be a factor in student housing or enrollment decisions."
Current estimates from he Philippine Embassy and consulates place more than 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in the US but immigration lawyers and advocates believe the real number could reach a million. —KBK, GMA News
Thumbnail courtesy of Karlito Almeda's Facebook page.