University of Pennsylvania: A Sanctuary?

Anna Venguer

As Rudolf outlined, the U.S. Presidential results have induced a wave of protests throughout educational institutions around the country. The backlash of the election has fostered a series of movements within our own university, including calls to make UPenn a ‘sanctuary campus’ (The Daily Pennsylvanian, 22 Nov. 2016) The President-elect has asserted that he will deport millions of undocumented immigrants and students believe that the ‘sanctuary’ status will bar the university staff and administration from assisting Trump in his endeavor. The undocumented students are currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA) that President Obama put forth using an executive order. The fear, however, rests in Trump undermining this executive order with his own.

The Daily Pennsylvanian article outlines how university students on Penn campus have advocated for UPenn to take a stand as a ‘sanctuary campus’ and have taken the appropriate steps for the President and the rest of the administration to back this request. Yet, a UPenn Law Professor Chang-Muy recognizes that this policy shift could conflict with an executive order if Trump repeals the DACA. As such, Chang-Muy cautions that this term might be more symbolic than constructive, because disobeying federal laws will likely have profound ramifications. Nevertheless, students have continued to move forward with their demands in an effort to undermine Trump’s authority and protect undocumented students on campus.

An article published by Breitbart, a staunch Trump-supporting news outlet, on the other hand, has described this push towards ‘sanctuary’ universities as a move to “defy federal immigration law.” The article highlights a recent march on Stanford University demanding that Palo Alto be transformed into ‘sanctuary grounds.’ Criticizing other “elite” universities for calling on their administrations to establish “refugee camps for illegal aliens,” the article is very explicit in its disapproval of the growing momentum for so-called ‘sanctuary campuses’ across the country. The article also suggests that Trump will likely quash these illegal movements once he comes into power in January.

After leading a campaign rampant with xenophobic, misogynistic, and racial slurs, President-elect Trump has already begun to see hostile responses to his upcoming Presidency throughout university campuses around the nation. The move towards establishing ‘sanctuary’ campuses, represents one of many reactions to the threat of implementing more more stringent immigration policies that target minorities and undocumented individuals.


Laracy, Charlotte. “A Petition is Calling for Amy Gutmann to Make Penn a ‘Sanctuary Campus.’ Here’s What That Means.” The Daily Pennsylvanian, Nov. 22nd. Accessed 28th Nov. 2016.

Pollack, Joel B. “‘Sanctuary Campus’: Stanford Students Demand Illegal Alien Refugee Camp.” Breitbart News, 16 Nov. 2016. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016


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