“This week has been hard.”
While this phrase has unwittingly become my mantra for 2017, this past week was particularly difficult for me, both emotionally and rationally. It is possible, with the distraction of the many and varied antics of the Trump Administration, that you might have missed the coverage on recent ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids rounding up 680 undocumented immigrants nationwide. While federal immigration raids are common to most administrations, these raids were particularly concerning for the Hispanic population since Trump has expanded the criteria for targeting and arresting individuals to include those with non-adjudicated criminal records (like 20-year resident and mother, Guadalupe García de Rayos) as well as those without a criminal history entirely. Moreover, two DACA students were detained in recent raids, despite authorized legal status granted under the Obama administration’s deferred action policy. Fear and anxiety are now the everyday realities of undocumented immigrant youth and their families.
These recent developments have really shaken me; and the fact that IU administration refuses to offer sanctuary protection to our undocumented students here on IU campus hasn’t helped my state of mind. It should be noted that IU has offered some resources to students in the way of legal counseling for immigration-related issues and present admissions policy does not require undocumented students to identify their legal status nor does it collect information on undocumented students. However, these small protections are tenuous at best, as demonstrated with the recent introduction of Indiana Senate Bill 423 which would prohibit “postsecondary educational institutions with in-state campuses from restricting any governmental body’s efforts regarding obtaining, maintaining, or sharing information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of an individual.” So while the likelihood of IU to adopt sanctuary policies is rather abysmal, it seems quite probable that some minor protections offered under current IU policy will soon disappear. In short, things will soon only get worse for our undocumented student population here on campus.
Lately it has been hard for me to attend class and work for a campus which has only issued hollow words and demonstrated such reluctance to fully protect its most vulnerable students who fear deportation. While the library touts itself as a sanctuary of inclusivity and diversity, under current IU policy the library—as with any other public area on or off-campus—is simply NOT A SAFE SPACE for undocumented students or community members. Legally, ICE fully has the right to come onto campus, walk through the doors of our libraries, and harass or detain an undocumented person.
Such realities leave me sick, so you must excuse me if I don’t celebrate the umpteenth suggestion on a library forum proposing a “diversity” program. Typical library work is simply not enough when it comes to this issue, we need to shed (even if only temporarily) our librarianship-as-activism mantle, step outside our bubble of like-minded cohorts, and fight beyond the confines of our library to protect every person’s civil liberties, regardless of that individual’s nationality, residency, or status. The time for book displays and workshops is later; right now we have to urgently confront the oppression within our university walls by standing up to educational and governmental institutions on behalf of those who, understandably, don’t wish to raise their voice too loud for fear of being discovered and targeted. Write to your library dean, write to your Provost, write to President McRobbie, write to your senators. Let them know that you, as a future information professional, not only defend the rhetoric of library values like inclusivity, diversity, tolerance, and equity, but also demand to see such rhetoric reflected in administrative action and policy.
Next Steps & Additional Resources
- Sign this petition requesting further action from IU regarding Trump’s executive orders and a declaration of sanctuary status.
- Contact Senator Michael Young and Senator Michael Delph to tell them you do not support Senate Bill 423, mandating public universities turn over information about undocumented people before its hearing on Tuesday, Feb 21st at 9:30am.
- Refer anyone to this handout [available in a variety of languages] or this handout detailing one’s rights in regards to ICE detainment and deportation.
- Refer anyone to this list of Indiana Chapter lawyers offering pro bono or low-cost service for undocumented students.
- Read this practical guide for bystander intervention and de-escalation tactics if you see something wrong or questionable.
- Read this practical guide to inform the way you share and report immigration raids on social media.
- Contact your legislator, and the members of the education committee, and urge them to support HB1149 in this year’s general assembly session, which will allow undocumented residents of Indiana to pay in-state tuition rather than the significantly higher out-of-state tuition.
- And please use the following scenario to guide you the next time someone at the desk uses the term “illegal” to describe a human being:
I’m interested in finding some resources about the recent legislation that allows illegal immigrants to apply for financial aid.
Sure, I can help with that! We’ll have better luck searching for the term “undocumented” rather than “illegal”, since “illegal” is no longer considered a preferred descriptor due to its dehumanizing connotations and therefore won’t appear in the records we’re looking for. So let’s start searching!