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Undocumented Students Criticize President Trump’s Executive Orders

Students gather on the steps of Widener Library to advocate for the defense of undocumented students in November.
Students gather on the steps of Widener Library to advocate for the defense of undocumented students in November. By Thomas W. Franck
By Margot D. Dionne, Crimson Staff Writer

As Harvard administrators spoke out against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration executive orders, the University’s undocumented students say they are pleased with Harvard’s actions—like creating a website and appointing an immigration attorney—that aim to support them.

In an email to Harvard affiliates Sunday, University President Drew G. Faust reaffirmed the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and outlined action to advise undocumented students during what she called “times of unsettling change.”

Specifically, she said the Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic has “engaged” a full-time attorney for undocumented students, and will look to further develop a website consolidating online immigration resources.

In response, several of Harvard’s dozens of undocumented students said they were pleased with Faust’s allocation of resources.

“I feel pretty protected on campus and I’m pretty sure most students do as well,” said Paulo J. Pinto ’18, an undocumented College student from Portugal. Pinto added that despite Faust’s refusal to call Harvard a “sanctuary” campus, he feels the campus is adequately serving its undocumented students.

“I think the policies that the University has outlined reflect a lot of those ‘sanctuary’ policies that cities do,” Pinto said.

Enrique Ramirez ’17 said he thought the College specifically—which has dedicated a “point person” for undocumented students’ concerns— “is doing more than enough.”

Jin K. Park ’18, an undocumented student from South Korea, said while he was pleased with Faust’s support, Harvard still stands to do more to protect its vulnerable students.

“It’s not just about talking to people in the Harvard community,” Park said. “It means showing up to rallies in support of undocumented students.”

Park added that he thinks Faust and other administrators should be visible in their resistance to the Trump administration’s views on immigration.

“President Faust, given the political climate, has to come out as a really vocal proponent of reform,” Park said. He suggested that faculty members voice support for undocumented immigrants in their courses and create “an overlapping consensus on what inclusion means” across the University.

Reacting to Trump’s executive orders, which throughout Trump's 11-day presidency have advocated stripping federal funding from sanctuary cities and building a wall on the United States’ southern border, some undocumented students say they are upset and frightened.

For Ramirez, a beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, continued anti-immigration action could pose job security risks.

“If Trump takes away DACA, then I won’t have a way to work legally in the U.S.,” Ramirez said. “I might not have the chance to work.”

DACA, which came into effect during the Obama administration, allows undocumented children to obtain work permits, Social Security numbers, and government identification.

Park, who is also a DACA beneficiary, said he was upset by what he characterized as Trump’s xenophobia in crafting the executive orders.

“Undocumented people have been scapegoated and blamed for decades,” he said.

Hiram J. Rios Hernandez, chair of the Kennedy School’s Latinx Caucus, said he was especially upset by Trump’s order to defund sanctuary cities.

“It’s offensive, it’s hurtful, and it’s a little shortsighted,” Hernandez said.

—Staff writer Margot D. Dionne can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MargotDionne.

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