District resolution protects undocumented students

The Los Rios Community College District has reaffirmed its commitment to diversity by signing a new resolution in support of undocumented students and employees.

On Jan. 11 the LRCCD Board of Trustees unanimously passed Resolution  2017-02, which takes a stance in support of students and employees covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

DACA, a federal program providing lawful status and work authorization to undocumented individuals, allows students to pursue their education and are allowed employment opportunities by educational institutions.

The resolution states that the district will not cooperate with federal efforts to create any registry on their students based on religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation. The district will not disclose their students’ confidential records, unless required by law, and the Los Rios Police Department has been instructed not to target students in suspicion of immigration status.

‘You won’t detain students, and we are not going to use our resources to detain students, because they may be undocumented,’ I think that’s a powerful statement.

— Anastasia Panagakos

Professor of Anthropology and coordinator of the Safe Spaces program at Cosumnes River College, Anastasia Panagakos, said she is proud to work in a district that takes a strong stance for their students.

“We have a strong focus on diversity and this strong idea -especially in our district- that the goal here is to educate students, and I’m not going to ask a student, beyond their name, to tell me anything else unless they want to. It’s really none of my business what their background is,” she said. “The fact that the district has extended that to include the police force, saying, ‘You won’t detain students, and we are not going to use our resources to detain students, because they may be undocumented,’ I think that’s a powerful statement.”

President Trump’s plans to target undocumented citizens was a factor for the district’s preemptive measure to protect their students and employees, according to LRCCD 2017-02 resolution.

This resolution exemplifies its solidarity with schools in other districts who are also fighting for their students after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged Californian educators to declare schools as safe havens against deportation.

Many students, like 33-year-old Christopher Joseph, a film and media studies major, agreed with the district’s stance in protecting their students.

“Since they are already here, and usually younger and brought here by their parents, I feel like they should be able to stay,” he said. “Because, through no fault of their own, they are here going to school and trying to better themselves.”

CRC has been monitoring immigration policies concerning their students very closely. A month before resolution 2017-02 was passed, Cosumnes River College President Edward Bush sent an email to campus students reassuring them that the district and the school were dedicated to supporting their students.

“We are here to support you and want you to know we will continue to advocate on your behalf,” Bush wrote.

Film and media studies major Matt Walter, 19, said he is glad to see the school has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to students in the last few months.

“It feels like the school really cares about the students here,” he said.

On Feb. 3, during a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked when to expect President Donald Trump’s termination of programs such as the DACA and the issuance of work permits.

“The president has made significant progress on addressing the pledge he made to the American people regarding immigration problems that we face, and I think we’re going to see more action on that in the next few weeks,” Spicer said.

It is unclear whether the White House will keep DACA. Little is known about the future of the program.

Panagakos said that she has noticed a general growing anxiety among students since Trump has taken office, and wants to help those that fear being thrown into a chaotic situation.  

“We don’t ask or judge in terms of anyone’s background whatever that may be,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone is getting what they need and that this environment remains open and safe.”