undocumented students, sanctuary campuses


With the 1982 Supreme Court decision in the case of Plyler v. Doe, K-12 students, regardless of their immigration status, were able to access a free public school education without the threat of deportation. However, such clarity has not been the case for undocumented students pursuing higher education. As increasing numbers of undocumented students graduate from high school, some with undocumented parents and some who are unaccompanied youth seeking asylum, many dream of the opportunity to attend college (Perry, 2014). And yet, many “Dreamers” are unable to do so because of little access to financial aid, the lack of accurate information, the absence of institutional support, language and cultural barriers, and ultimately, the fear of deportation or the deportation of their loved ones. In response to these overwhelming challenges and increased fear and uncertainty raised since the 2016 elections, The Evergreen State College (TESC) is developing a framework to better support undocumented students as they seek their college degrees. In the following article, we describe the components of this framework and the steps taken thus far to ensure that the College is responsive to the needs of undocumented students. First, we consider the broader political conditions and policies, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the sanctuary movement, which together are impacting the responses of higher education institutions nationwide. From there, we discuss how other state higher education institutions are responding to the needs of undocumented students and how we hope to continue doing so at The Evergreen State College.