An undocumented immigrant stepped out of the shadows Wednesday afternoon and on top of the Maya Lin “Women’s Table” sculpture to urge a crowd of supporters to make Yale one of many “sanctuary campuses” across the country.
“I am one of the 11 million undocumented people in this country,” Ramon Valdez, a first-year political science graduate student, told 400 attendees at a post-election rally on Yale’s Cross Campus calling for opposition to President-Elect Donald Trump’s stated plans to deport millions of immigrants and possibly punish the “sanctuary cities” like New Haven that protect them from the federal government. “I am unafraid. And I am unapologetic about it.”
Valdez came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents when he was 15. His mother still lives in the country. “We are not going to bend down to the words of one man,” Valdez vowed.
Once Trump takes office, Valdez warned, “he’s coming after sanctuary cities. He’s coming after sanctuary campuses. Unless people like you say, ‘No, that’s not who we are.’”
Students roared their support for Valdez and other undocumented people in New Haven. The students walked out of classes for the 3 p.m. rally, one of 80 “#SanctuaryCampus” rallies planned nationwide Wednesday.
The Yale students called for Yale to refuse to share information with federal immigration officials or allow them access to campus; to instruct campus security not to inquire about people’s immigration status or participate in federal immigration enforcement; and “not to use e-verify” to check employees’ status.
“We’re reviewing our options,” Yale spokeswoman Eileen O’Connor responded when asked later about the demands. “We also recognize we are part of New Haven, which is a sanctuary city.” (Mayor Toni Harp this week affirmed that New Haven will continue its policies of giving all New Haveners, including undocumented immigrants, resident ID cards and of instructing cops not to inquire about people’s immigration status or detain people who may appear on federal immigration detention lists.)
Upper Westville Alder Darryl Brackeen, Jr., heralded the city’s continued “sanctuary” commitment in remarks to Wednesday’s rally.
Immigrant-rights organizer John Lugo of the group Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) urged the Yalies to leave campus and work with activists in Fair Haven to protect immigrants from deportation. He spoke of how the feds swept through Fair Haven in 2007 just after New Haven approved the ID card plan and rounded up 32 undocumented people. “We fought back — and we brought those people back to the community,” Lugo recalled.
Junta for Progressive Action is one of the groups that have advocated for immigrants’ rights in the neighborhood. Juancarlos Soto, the agency’s youth coordinator, also urged the crowd to “step outside of thee walls ... and come to the Fair Haven community to fight with us.”
The crowd was also urged to text “SANCTUARY” to the number 662266 to join the nationwide sanctuary campus movement.
Yale also issued this official statement in reference to the sanctuary campus demands: “Yale University takes seriously the concerns being expressed in our community about potential changes related to our country’s immigration laws. Our primary objective is the safety and well-being of our students, including our many international students, and we are taking a series of steps to address their concerns and provide them with advice and support resources. In addition, a working group of faculty experts, students, and university administrators is being convened to analyze the many complex legal issues and explore possible responses. We have already begun working with local, state and federal officials to address these important policy issues, and we will be monitoring the upcoming changes closely. We will be engaging policy makers in order to assure that all Yale students can complete their degrees and go on to be successful and valued contributors to the nation and the world.”
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to deport all 11 million undocumented in the country and to withdraw federal funds from sanctuary cities. Since his election he has said he would seek to deport three million “criminals” and praised the other undocumented people here.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 16, 2016 7:41pm
John Lugo is the man.The John Shaft of the group Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA)
John Lugo for Mayor.
posted by: Noteworthy on November 16, 2016 9:27pm
There is nothing productive about these endless public bitching, pounding your chest Sanctuary Moments. It is a waste of energy and stretches the good will of the American people. There is no current plan; there is not even a consensus in Congress about immigration reform except that the border must be secure and the flood of illegal immigrants, tens of thousands each month, must be choked off. After that, there is some initial thought that felony criminals should be deported. Somewhere in there, will be a discussion about changes in current immigration law.
Until then, Yale should ignore these demands. They’re foolish and not predicated on anything real. They are based on a presidential race that didn’t turn out the way they wanted. It will be interesting to see just how strong these demands are embraced if Yale’s School of Medicine is looking at losing millions of dollars in research grants; or access to federally backed student loans or if the city is facing a prohibition on receiving grant money and is cut off from law enforcement grants etc.
posted by: 1644 on November 16, 2016 9:54pm
Yale will resist until its medical research grants are threatened. Then, it will fold, as it did with military recruiting in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” days. If the city cannot get a court stay of any funding cuts, it will fold immediately. It cannot afford to lose federal funds. Meanwhile, in other news, Maya is getting a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Just hope these guys didn’t ding her monument more than it already is. Otherwise, I am pretty sure she would approve of its temporary use, although the imagery of two men thoughtlessly trampling over women to promote their own agenda is bad. :)
posted by: Bradley on November 16, 2016 10:03pm
ABC, I certainly hope Yale, particularly the Law School, flaunts the law.
Neither Yale or the city is flouting the law. Federal law allows local law enforcement agencies to be deputized to enforce immigration law, but does not require them to take on this role. Federal law does require local law enforcement to inquire as to people’s mmigration status.
posted by: 1644 on November 16, 2016 10:35pm
Bradley: The law School led the opposition to military recruiting. The feds, however, did not view it as a separate entity. A huge percentage of the university’s income is federally funding research grants. Neither Yale, nor New Haven, can afford to lose them.
posted by: Bradley on November 17, 2016 7:27am
Correction to my last post - federal law does NOT require law enforcement to inquire about immigration status (my typo).
posted by: Perspective on November 17, 2016 7:50am
“I am unafraid. And I am unapologetic about it.”
Mr. Valdez. No one is asking you to be afraid or to apologize. The US citizens are merely asking you to abide by the LAWS of this country while you reap the benefits of living here.
On another note, I cannot understand how adding the word “undocumented” provides a feel good slant to essentially bypassing the law. Perhaps I can state that my car is an ‘undocumented’ vehicle to break the law and avoid paying taxes or registration fees. Can we add ‘undocumented’ to signify a gun that is not legally registered? How about if I change the status of my domicile to ‘undocumented’ to avoid real estate taxes? Not saying these folks are avoiding taxes,etc, but aren’t they breaking the law?
posted by: vpaul on November 17, 2016 8:34am
Yale is tied up with federal money and can’t be trusted to buck the US Government. City government is close to the people (elections every 2 years) and a more reliable indicator of the popular will. Which is, naturally, to protect friends, neighbors and families from erratic, Nazi-style raids. Let’s help these hard-working people become citizens.
posted by: JohnTulin on November 17, 2016 8:52am
What’s with these people not holding their own megaphone? Seriously, saw the same thing with those idiots blocking Chapel St. Does this make them feel more militant, or executive?
By the way, I totally support the cause but blocking me from getting to where I need to me doesn’t help. At all. I would think that the uninformed would just hate you and your cause all the more due to your obnoxious grandstanding.
Enough drama and get to work! Fight the power!
posted by: Bill Saunders on November 17, 2016 9:51am
Has somebody started a Crowdsourcing Campaign for the Kumbaya Center yet? I have some tiny violins to donate to the music room…..
posted by: robn on November 17, 2016 11:38am
Since 47% of voters now believe that they have a mandate, it sounds like a done deal…please dear immigrants, on your way out of town please don’t forget to shut off off the lights in the Statue of Liberty.
posted by: vpaul on November 17, 2016 11:59am
Those who worship “the law” might well ask themselves what “law” is. Is it something that is passed by legislators and never enforced; or only erratically enforced; or enforced as a tool of discrimination? Is immigration law supposed to be like a speed-limit law: never enforced until they want to stop you.
Borders need to be controlled and immigration “law” needs drastic reform with due process put back into it. Otherwise it will not be respected, nor will it deserve to be.
posted by: 1644 on November 17, 2016 1:36pm
VPaul: The last 8 years have taught us that the chief executive may ignore his oath to faithfully execute the law, and pick and choose those which he wants to enforce, and ignore others. Obama chose to ignore immigration and drug laws, although the legislative branch, i.e., the nation’s lawmaking branch, had made not changes to the laws. On January 20th, we will have a new chief executive. Per the precedent of his predecessor, he may pick and chose those laws he may enforce, depending on his whim. If he cannot get his tax policy through Congress, perhaps he can issue an executive order to the IRS saying he should not penalize corporations which pay less than the US rate (35%), so long as they pay the Irish rate (12%). Or not enforce insider trading laws, or Sarbanes-Oxley. Or ...
posted by: the1king on November 17, 2016 1:43pm
I know this is about Yale. But I could give to craps about them. I had asked a question that I don’t have an answer to. How much is the city of New Haven spending to be a sanctuary city. How much money are we losing and will lose. How much is the city looking to spend in legal fees. Finally who decided New Haven is a Sanctuary City. Was there a vote on it. Who decided. We should have a vote on it and should be told what it cost.
posted by: vpaul on November 17, 2016 5:20pm
1644: Obama got away with it because of a compliant, gridlocked Congress. Trump has no excuse. He has both Houses of Congress. So if he doesn’t provide action on needed reform, we know exactly whom to blame.
The rule by executive order is exactly what the Founders feared: Monarchy!
posted by: westville man on November 17, 2016 5:43pm
1644. My understanding is that Obama deported more people than any other president before him. Check it out. Trump will follow in his footsteps apparently.
These children need to go back to class since their parents are paying a fortune for their education. Anyone, Yale student or not, who is here illegally, should be deported. Go through the legal channels or leave. I don’t see how the rules should be exempted just because an illegal is enrolled at Yale.