The City University of New York is a national leader in welcoming, supporting and educating immigrants, regardless of status. Today, there is quite understandably heightened concern about the ability of universities across the country to protect and support their undocumented students. Since the presidential election, I have written to the CUNY community to reaffirm our historical commitment to providing education and opportunity to all, with particular emphasis on our fundamental commitment to immigrants. I have stated unequivocally that CUNY will take any steps available under the law to protect and support its undocumented students.
I joined other leading university presidents writing to urge the incoming administration to retain the humane and beneficial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through our important partnership with TheDream.US, CUNY has the largest number of undocumented students supported by private scholarships in the country, and we will pursue other means to support our students.
We are justifiably proud of our historical leadership in welcoming, supporting, and providing a wide array of services to immigrants. This is true on our campuses and it is true across the city through our outreach programs. We operate the extremely effective “Citizenship Now!” program, at this time more important than ever, which has offices in all five boroughs, providing one-on-one legal services, referrals to needed social services, reviews of legal status and assistance with immigration and visa applications. Our campuses have been providing counseling and other services, and each campus will establish a central point of contact for information and resources for students.
Our commitment to undocumented immigrants at CUNY is not new and has been demonstrated by the resources and attention we devote to these valued members of our community. Over the last month, I have had many discussions with students, faculty and staff at CUNY, and I write today to share more broadly many of the important elements that will continue to be part of CUNY’s pledge to its community. CUNY’s commitment includes the following:
- CUNY will take no action to assist in the enforcement of the immigration laws except as required by law;
- CUNY will protect student record information in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act;
- CUNY will not turn over student information to immigration enforcement authorities except pursuant to court order;
- CUNY will not request or gather information about students’ citizenship or immigration status in the course of providing educational or other services or in connection with public safety activities except as required in connection with tuition or financial aid eligibility;
- CUNY will not permit immigration enforcement officials to enter its campuses except to the extent required by a warrant or court order;
- CUNY will work with city, state and federal leaders in support of immigration reforms that maximize, not diminish, educational opportunities for all students.
We will continue to monitor and assess policies and practices that affect our students and take action, consistent with our obligations under the law, to support and protect our students. CUNY will continue to pursue policies and practices that help ensure that our campuses welcome and value all of our students, regardless of immigration status, race, religion, nationality, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And we will always condemn acts of violence, hate crimes, and expressions of bigotry and intolerance. In short, CUNY remains the university that, in the words of the first president of our predecessor institution the Free Academy, educates “the people, the whole people.”