MAHWAH, N.J. – Some students at Ramapo College of New Jersey are advocating to make their Mahwah school a “sanctuary campus.”
“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,” said Karlito Almeda, a first generation American from Mahwah.
Karlito, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines, said he and his friends Brendan Brence, Grace Maute and Anastasia Caulfield are leading the campaign at Ramapo.
The students on the Bergen County campus are not alone.
Students at colleges and universities throughout the country are pushing for their campuses to become “sanctuaries” for those who could potentially be deported under the policies of President Donald Trump.
Activists are worried that President Trump could eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows many young immigrants to work and attend school in the United States.
Almeda said he knows of a number of students at Ramapo who could be affected if DACA was repealed.
In a statement, Ramapo College President Peter P. Mercer said Tuesday that he has pledged support to students registered under DACA.
“Ramapo College will continue to protect its students to the maximum extent that the law allows,” he said.
Mercer went on to say that the term “sanctuary campus” is not legally defined. “If ‘sanctuary campus’ were to be legally defined as a status which affords a measure of security to our students, faculty and staff, then Ramapo College would already manifest that distinction,” he said.
Mercer said the college does not release personally identifiable information connected to student education records without a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, public safety officers do not inquire about the immigration status of people on campus, and immigration status is not a factor in student housing or enrollment decisions.
The issue will be debated at a Student Government Association meeting on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Friends Hall on campus, Almeda said.