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BU president assures school won't share info about undocumented students

President Robert A. Brown responded to a student petition asking for the school to become a sanctuary campus in a letter to the BU community this week.
Boston UniversityWikimedia Commons

Boston University students recently submitted a petition calling on the school's president, provost and dean to declare the college a "sanctuary campus," an action undertaken by colleges throughout the city and across the country.

President Robert A. Brown replied to the petition in a letter to the BU community this week, saying that the school won't share information about undocumented students unless required to do so byawarrant or subpoena.

"If students self-identify to the University as undocumented, we will provide advice and counsel as appropriate and on a case-by-case basis," Brown wrote."We will not volunteer information about such students."

Immediately after Donald Trump was announced as the president-elect, Harvard students, staff and faculty crafted a petition calling upon their administrators to adopt the sanctuary campus moniker out of concerns for students who benefit fromDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.


Harvard University President Drew Faust announced last week that she would not call Harvard a sanctuary campus, siting that the phrase, unlike a "sanctuary city,"has "nolegal significance or even clear definition."

RELATED: Harvard president rejects sanctuary campus label; Student activists disappointed

Following the election, Brown wrote a letter to BU students in which he noted the strong values upon which the school was founded and the need to hold on to them.

BU students turned Brown's words back to him in their petition, writing "In your letter to the student body ... you detail how Boston University was 'founded by a group of abolitionists who abhorred slavery'; currently, we are called upon once again to defend and preserve vulnerable members of our community, such as undocumented students. "

While Brown did not say that the institution would call itself a sanctuary campus, he did write this week that "We are committed to offering undocumented students our fullest support possible while complying with federal law."

Brown wrote that those asking for the sanctuary campus also wanted the administration to bar representatives of federal agencies like the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection from coming onto BU's campus and enforcing federal immigration laws there.

RELATED: What you need to know about sanctuary cities

"This is not a promise we can make, as the University must obey the applicable state and federal laws," Brown wrote.

However, he assured the community that the Boston University Police Department "does not currently play any role in the enforcement of such laws and will not voluntarily assist the federal government in immigration enforcement."

At the end of November, Brown signed an open letter along with more than 250 leaders in higher education to urge the country to preserve DACA. He told the BU community this week that he hopes the program continues.

"If it is curtailed or terminated, we will seek to provide such support as is consistent with the definitions of the DACA statute," he wrote. "Boston University has a great tradition of inclusiveness. We honor that legacy by extending our hands in welcome and keeping open the doors to opportunity."

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