BU Student Government Approves ‘Sanctuary Campus’ Proposal

Marsh Chapel would be a 'physical sanctuary' for the undocumented community.

The Boston University Student Government passed a proposal Tuesday night formally supporting a petition to make BU a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented immigrants.

The proposal urges BU President Robert Brown to act on statements he made in a November 10 letter to the community, in which he called the school’s “exemplary inclusiveness” and abolitionist roots the “bedrock on which we were built and on which we must continue to build.”

The petition has garnered nearly 2,000 signatures from members of the BU community, calling on the university to refrain from cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and to make Marsh Chapel in the center of campus a “physical place of sanctuary and protection for the local undocumented community.”

“If we are not able to use our considerable resources to protect these vulnerable members of our community at a time when their safety and lives are at incredible risk, we do a disservice both to those who came before us as well as to those who will come after us,” the petition reads.

The Student Government passed the proposal, 89-11.

Boston’s “sanctuary city” protections have come into focus following the election of Donald Trump, who has sworn to deport up to 3 million illegal immigrants upon taking office next month. City Councillor Tito Jackson has proposed expanding the protections provided in a 2014 ordinance authored by Councillor Josh Zakim, while Mayor Marty Walsh has expressed his concerns over Trump’s desire to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

“[Trump] can’t just simply pull the plug,” Walsh said. “There’s contracts and there’s an understanding, money that cities and towns get from the federal government anyway, so I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, ‘Stop the money to Massachusetts or Boston.’ You can’t do that.”

Last month, Brown joined more than 250 administrators in higher education, including his peers at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Northeastern, in calling for the preservation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. Trump has vowed to scrap DACA, established by President Barack Obama’s executive order in 2012.