Undocumented Students at Portland Community College Want It to Join Sanctuary Movement

“We are pursuing a future that is kind of pushing back against right now," one PCC students says.

PCC student Christian Calzada, speaking to Fox 12 News at the event. (Photo by Piper McDaniel)

Undocumented students at Portland Community College are calling on school administrators to offer additional safeguards for students, as campuses in Portland and across the country respond to fears of a Trump-led immigration backlash.

On Tuesday, several students announced they were "undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic," at a rally on the Rock Creek campus , and demanded that PCC declare itself a "sanctuary" campus, as Reed College, Lewis & Clark College, Portland State University, Oregon State University and University of Oregon have all done in recent weeks.

"Today we are going to be more vulnerable than ever, and we want PCC to have our back," student Jhoana Monroy said at the rally.

A spokeswoman for PCC says the board is still weighing whether to join the movement, which is largely symbolic.

"They are doing research about the implications," says Kate Chester, the spokeswoman, noting the term "sanctuary" isn't legally defined. "There's a lot of unknowns. We are trying to evaluate sanctuary, and what might be the implications. The board is trying to be thorough and not make a rash decision."

The PCC board has not offered a timeline for making the decision, but Mark Mitsui, PCC's new president, issued a statement late Tuesday following the event.

"In the last month, many at PCC have come forth to express concern about the impact of potential changes in federal immigration policy for the college's undocumented and documented immigrant students," he wrote. "We have received the request to make PCC a sanctuary campus, and the proposal is currently under consideration by the college's Board of Directors. While it is difficult to predict future federal policy changes, PCC will continue to support its immigrant students and safeguard the privacy rights for all students."

Chester says PCC is already following sanctuary principles, but for undocumented students the symbolism of the declaration is important.

"This is our second home," says Christian Calzada, another student who participated in the rally. "We are pursuing a future that is kind of pushing back against right now. So for PCC to say proudly that they have our backs is our home opening up the doors for us."

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