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Congress looks to punish ‘sanctuary campus’ colleges that protect illegal immigrants

Forget sanctuary cities: The next heated congressional battle on immigration could be over “sanctuary campuses” — colleges and universities who say that unless they’re forced by law, they’ll resist any cooperation with federal immigration agents.

Dozens of schools have already declared themselves sanctuaries and many more are debating the move, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, has now introduced legislation to try to stop them by stripping some federal funds.

Mr. Hunter’s legislation would require Homeland Security to keep a list of sanctuary campuses and send it to the Education Department, which would then cancel federal payments for student loans and financial aid, potentially costing schools billions of dollars.

“This effort is not about telling colleges who they can and can’t accept for enrollment, but whatever decision they make will either mean they receive federal money or they don’t — it’s that simple,” Mr. Hunter said.

His bill has the backing of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which said schools that refuse to cooperate with federal agents are putting students’ security at risk.

“Affording public benefits to illegal aliens not only serves as a magnet to future illegal immigration but is a slap in the face to the thousands of disadvantaged Americans and legal immigrant students competing for those same college slots and funding,” FAIR said in a statement.

The University of California system of schools is perhaps the biggest target.

System President Janet Napolitano announced in November that she ordered schools and their police departments not to undertake any efforts to enforce federal immigration laws. That means refusing to disclose any information about students unless ordered by a court.

The move was aimed squarely at President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to step up deportations.

“We felt it necessary to reaffirm that UC will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study, and live safely and without fear at all UC locations,” Ms. Napolitano said.

Illegal immigrant students generally fall under the category of Dreamers, the young-adult migrants who came to the U.S. as children. President Obama declared a deportation amnesty for them in 2012, granting them tentative legal status and work permits, which enabled them to obtain driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits, including enrolling in public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.

Mr. Trump has said he would rescind the 2012 policy as soon as he takes office — though it’s unclear whether he would also immediately cancel all of the permits already issued by the Obama administration.

Schools are moving to try to counter that as best they can. Arizona State University, for example, is looking to enlist donors to pony up cash to provide scholarships for Dreamers to keep attending at in-state rates.

It’s unclear whether schools would be willing to accept the loss of federal money envisioned in Mr. Hunter’s bill.

Ms. Napolitano’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment about how the University of California system would respond.

A number of cities and counties faced with the loss of federal policing money because of their sanctuary policies have said they’ll accept the punishment in order to maintain their stance.

But schools rely heavily on federal money. FAIR said the federal government spent $ 128.7 billion in 2015 on student loans and grants — money that would be denied under the Hunter bill.

Mr. Hunter’s legislation specifically carves out an exception for victims of crimes, saying colleges can shield them without being deemed sanctuaries.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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