Q&A Concerning Undocumented Individuals at Puget Sound

What is Puget Sound’s commitment to undocumented students enrolled at the university?

The university is committed to the safety and well-being of all members of the campus community. Information related specifically to undocumented students includes: 

How many undocumented students are enrolled at Puget Sound?

Puget Sound enrolls students without regard to citizenship or immigration status. While the number of undocumented students is small, the university does not identify a number of undocumented students nor does the university records system code students as undocumented.  

What resources are available for undocumented students?

  • Rev. David Wright ‘96, chaplain and director for spiritual life and civic engagement, has been appointed to serve as a confidential resource for undocumented persons, including students who may have questions about processes for renewal of their DACA status.
  • Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Michael Benitez and Director of Intercultural Engagement Vivie Nguyen are resources to all underrepresented students.
  • Counseling, Health and Wellness staff members are prepared to support undocumented students.
  • Associate Vice President for Student Financial Services Maggie Mittuch '82 is available for confidential consultation concerning financial matters that may affect undocumented and DACA students.
  • Assistant Registrar Kathleen Campbell and Registrar Michael Pastore are resources regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and any release of student information.
  • Director of Student Employment Services Mona Lawrence is a resource for undocumented student staff who have questions regarding employment authorization obtained through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How might undocumented students be affected by the new presidential administration?

Approximately 750,000 students in the United States are eligible to complete a process to receive two-year protection from deportation, a Social Security number, and approval to work under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[1] DACA is an executive order signed in 2012 by President Barack Obama, not a law or regulation, so it can be changed or ended at any time. Many are concerned that the Donald Trump administration will modify or rescind DACA. Concerns are heightened in light of presidential executive orders issued in January 2017: "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements," "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," and "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

University of Puget Sound leaders are working with national higher education organizations and are actively encouraging members of Washington state’s congressional delegation to support passage of the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (or BRIDGE) Act, which would bring the provisions of DACA into law. President Crawford will be in Washington, D.C., January 30 - February 1 to meet with members of Washington state's Congressional delegation.

What is the likelihood of risk that undocumented students will lose approval to work, be removed from campus, or deported from the U.S.?

Nothing is certain, and vigilance is important. Puget Sound will continue to be vigilant, open, and flexible in considering all that can be done, ethically and legally, to protect Puget Sound students.

According to the American Council on Education, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) officers currently work under directives that give priority to threats to national security, border security and public safety. ICE’s Sensitive Locations Policy provides that enforcement actions should generally be avoided at schools, colleges, and universities.

It is unlikely that a situation involving only a student’s immigration status would be of such urgency that there would not be time for the appropriate university leaders, in consultation with legal counsel, to consider how best to protect Puget Sound students in accord with our Commitment to Support Students, Faculty, and Staff Regardless of Immigration Status or Religious Affiliation.

What is the risk of a “sanctuary campus” declaration?  

The phrase “sanctuary campus” has no clearly defined meaning, nor is “sanctuary” a status or regulation recognized under federal law. Because it is a broad phrase, it may carry a sense of protection beyond what is in fact possible to provide. Puget Sound has not declared itself a “sanctuary campus,” but continues to be deeply committed to offering services and resources that help our students achieve their educational goals, including the provision of accurate and specific information regarding privacy protections and support for students as outlined in published documents referenced above.

What advice has the university received from national higher education organizations in regard to becoming a sanctuary campus?

It is the well-considered recommendation of higher education leaders in our national organizations that declaration of “sanctuary campus” may draw the attention of those determined to undermine DACA and, in fact, jeopardize the security of the very students whom we want to protect.

What happens if a Puget Sound student, or a student’s family members, loses DACA-protected permission to work on or off campus?

Puget Sound will continue its practice of evaluating any student’s change in personal or family circumstances and make appropriate financial aid adjustments.



[1] Material in this FAQ is drawn from “Immigration Post-Election Q&A: DACA Students, 'Sanctuary Campuses' and Institutional or Community Assistance,” American Council on Education, December 2016. 

Originally posted December 6, 2016; Updated January 30, 2017