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US students demand ‘sanctuary campuses’ for immigrants

Colleges across the country have been holding anti-Trump walkouts

Donald Trump’s recent presidential win hasn’t gone down well with much of the US. Or the world, really. The much-mocked Republican – who lost the popular vote with 60,961,185 votes to Clinton’s 61,963,234 – has been the subject of protests, campaigns and burning effigies since his election last Tuesday.

Unfortunately for him, the country-wide backlash shows no signs of slowing. In an act of protest against Trump’s hardline immigration proposals, college students across the US staged a series of walkouts yesterday (November 17). The demonstrations – which took place at Yale, Brown, Columbia, and Amherst, among others – called for more protection for undocumented immigrants, with participating students urging their colleges to declare themselves “sanctuary campuses”.

“Given the outcome of the Presidential election, we call on Oberlin College to stand with other colleges and universities and investigate how to make Oberlin a sanctuary campus that will protect our community members from intimidation, unfair investigation, and deportation,” wrote students at Ohio’s Oberlin College in a letter to the college president. “We urge you to immediately investigate how to make Oberlin College a sanctuary campus. Doing so will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Oberlin remains an institution of higher learning that actively protects the safety of all members of our community.” The letter was signed by over 2,400 students, faculty, and alumni.

“Sanctuary campuses” comes from the term “sanctuary cities”, and refers to areas which pledge to protect residents from deportation. If protesters get what they want from these walkouts, undocumented students, staff members and family members would be safeguarded from Trump’s policies (the Republican has revealed that he plans to deport up to three million undocumented immigrants in his first term). 

“Undocumented migrants are a population directly at risk as a result of one of Trump’s campaign promises,” said students at New York City’s New School. “This is not an abstract issue: his promise to increase deportations and end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program puts some of our students, staff members and their family members at risk.”

It’s not just universities that are taking a stand against Trump, either. High schools across the country staged their own protests in the days after his election, with many teenagers walking out of mid-morning lessons to demonstrate against his bigoted campaign. “It’s shocking that America voted for this man,” said one 16-year-old Berkeley junior. “He’s a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe. It’s one step forward and two steps back. We had Obama and now we have Donald Trump and Melania. It’s disgusting.”

The protests have since sparked their own viral movement, known as the ‘Trump Is Coming’ challenge. To take part, students film themselves running away, screaming, when someone shouts the billionaire businessman’s name.