Editorial: UI must take a stand against xenophobia


Ting Xuan Tan

Local protesters listen to speakers talk about the outcome of the recent election of Donald Trump on Thursday, November 10, 2016. The protest took place downtown Iowa City in front of the Marriott Hotel from 5-7 pm. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

Against the backdrop of a polarized election rife with xenophobic rhetoric, many Americans feel unsafe in their own homes. Undocumented immigrants are among those feeling vulnerable under President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants in his first year in office. To put this number in context, President Obama earned the nickname “Deporter in Chief” for hitting 3 million deportees in the sixth year of his presidency.

On Monday, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld signed a statement released by Pomona College in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Pomona statement, addressed “to our country’s leaders,” called for the action to “be upheld, continued, and expanded,” calling it “a moral imperative and a national necessity.”

The executive action is often referenced in tandem with Obama’s DREAM Act, both of which are seen as a part of his relatively progressive legacy on undocumented immigration.

Both of these have their detractors on the right and the left, with critics on the right saying it is too lenient and critics on the left saying it does not go far enough.  Ultimately, the DREAM Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for amnesty from deportation, while the childhood executive action only defers deportation for two years without amnesty.

The act of deportation works to cheapen American society ethically, culturally and intellectually. There are also real economic costs associated with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. In order to hit the deportation goals he has set, Trump, backed by a GOP-controlled Congress, would have to drastically expand the ICE workforce. This is an option in direct conflict with Trump’s proposed federal hiring freeze.

Trump has also proposed the escalation of immigration raids coupled with increased collaboration between local law enforcement and federal agents. This seems to signal a probable expansion of the militarization of domestic police forces, as well as expansion of the surveillance state rooted in the USA PATRIOT Act and institutions such as the NSA.

Even a fraction of the expansion necessary to hit Trump’s proposed deportation goals will cost billions of taxpayer dollars and would require the orchestration of numerous executive orders and legislative actions.

A petition has also circulated to make the UI a sanctuary campus, a designation indicating that the university will not support federal prosecution or deportation of undocumented students. The petition thus far has garnered more than 200 signatures, as well as support from 25 student organizations.

The petition, which was spearheaded by UI student and former Daily Iowan writer Brad Pector, has yet to recieve an official response by the university.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board agrees with Pomona College’s assertion that undocumented students “are already part of our national community.” We support Harreld in declaring Obama’s deferred action on children an important foundation of meaningful immigration reform in the U.S., and hope to see the UI declared a sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrants.

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