College students at campuses around the United States marched and rallied Wednesday, urging administrators to protect students and employees against immigration action under a Donald Trump presidency.
Rallying supporters on social media with the hashtag #SanctuaryCampus, organizers said actions were planned at more than 80 schools, including Vermont’s Middlebury College, where about 400 people gathered, and Yale University, where demonstrators numbered about 600.
Students sought assurances that their schools would not share their personal information with immigration officials or allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on campus.
“Can you imagine the fear that it would inflict on college campuses if having ICE agents walk into a campus becomes the status quo?” organizer Carlos Rojas of the group Movimiento Cosecha, said by phone from New Jersey. “It would be terrifying.”
The actions continued days of demonstrations that have broken out in cities and high school campuses following Trump’s election victory last week. The Republican’s campaign promises included a vow to deport millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally.
“I’m very fearful,” Miriam Zamudio, whose parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, said by phone as she prepared to join a protest at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
She worries that the family information she provided on her application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status will endanger her parents, who are living in the country without legal permission.
“We don’t know what Trump is going to do,” Zamudio said. “We don’t know if he is going to demand this information, and we want our administration and our school to stand with us.”
Several hundred people, mainly high school and college students, rallied at the federal building in downtown San Diego to protest Trump’s election. Some held signs or banners saying “we are not criminals” and “make racists afraid again.” An 18-year-old was arrested after he allegedly punched a police officer, police said.
In one non-campus protest on Wednesday night, hundreds of people rallied on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to protest Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as a senior adviser.
Faculty and staff at several universities have signed petitions in support of making their campuses sanctuaries for people threatened with deportation – or anyone who faces discrimination.
“We are alarmed at the vitriol that students and community members are experiencing across the United States in the aftermath of the recent election,” the petition to administrators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said. “Reports of gross imitations of disabled youth, threats to aid in the deportation of students and their families, renewed deployments of the ‘N’ word, sexual aggressions against young women, bullying of Muslim and LGBTQ+ youth, reappearances of swastikas, among other acts, point to hostilities that infiltrate our campus.”
At the University of Memphis, students chanted “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here” and “No racists, no KKK, no fascist USA,” The Commercial Appeal reported.
Junior Luke Wilson stood nearby, holding a sign that said “You’re all cry babies.”
Similar sentiments appeared on Twitter and other social media platforms, along with messages of support.
“We know that there are going to be people on both sides of the issue,” Rojas said. “But I think that what no one could argue with is that a university and a college campus have a moral responsibility to make the students that are paying tuition and just want to get an education feel safe.”
Department of Homeland Security Press Secretary Gillian Christensen said existing ICE and Customs and Border Protection policies guide enforcement at “sensitive locations,” which include colleges and universities.
“The ICE and CBP sensitive locations policies, which remain in effect, provide that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and require either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action,” Christensen said by email. “DHS is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.”
Yale Ph.D. student Ramon Garibaldo told the crowd to remain hopeful.
“I fear for my existence every day,” said Garibaldo, whose parents brought him from Mexico. “My mom, my dad they crossed borders for me to be here. So we aren’t going to bow down to the orders of one man.”
Thompson reported from Buffalo, New York. Associated Press writers Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; David Mercer in Champaign, Illinois; Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vermont; and Emily Judd in New Haven, Connecticut, contributed to this report.