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Harvard, Smith vow to protect undocumented immigrants

Two Massachusetts university presidents reaffirmed their support this week for protecting undocumented immigrants on their campuses, saying they will not voluntarily release information about students’ immigration or citizenship status.

Harvard University president Drew Faust and Smith College president Kathleen McCartney each issued statements on Monday, stressing the need to protect all students and faculty on campus.

Faust urged the Harvard community to “affirm fundamental values of inclusion and belonging.”

“Our responsibility to each other requires us to demonstrate that we are enriched by difference and respectful disagreement, and to support any individuals in our community who feel vulnerable or unsafe,” she wrote in an e-mail to students and faculty.


Many college officials fear the incoming Donald Trump administration will seek to rescind a four-year-old federal program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protects undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Faust said the Harvard University Police Department does not ask about the immigration status of students, faculty, or staff, and campus police do not enforce federal immigration laws.

Faust also assured students that federal law enforcement officials who want to enter the campus are required to check in with Harvard police, and immigration officials are required to have a warrant.

Faust outlined other programs she plans to enact to ease the concerns and fears of Harvard community members, including the expansion of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and the creation of a “university-wide point of connection” that will provide information for undocumented students and faculty.

At Smith College, McCartney presented a plan in response to a petition that urged the college to declare itself “a sanctuary of higher education.” It has been signed by more than 1,600 Smith students, staff, faculty, and graduates, McCartney said.

“I strongly support the spirit of the petition,” she wrote. “Within the limits of federal law, we must support every member of our community, including and especially those targeted by anti-immigrant actions.”


McCartney also vowed to work with others to renew the DACA program.

“As an institution founded to expand access to education, Smith is committed to the right of every student to pursue her education with certainty and stability in a safe and supportive environment,” she wrote.

Both presidents’ statements come after a nationwide petition, started by Pomona College president David Oxtoby, for the extension of DACA. As of Tuesday afternoon, 380 college presidents had signed on.

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com.