In the wake of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to “deport millions of undocumented immigrants” once he is in office, students are pushing back by demanding that their university campuses become a sanctuary for those facing deportation, especially fellow students.

On Wednesday, students at around 100 schools across the U.S. staged walkouts to protest Trump’s immigration policies, including many Ivy League institutions and even high schools.

Petitions are circulating at universities such as New York University (NYU), Stanford University, Yale University, and Rutgers University, calling on them to publicly declare support for undocumented students.

Vera Parra, an organizer with Movimiento Cosecha, an immigrant rights group which is spearheading the “#SanctuaryCampus” movement, said that different campuses were using different strategies to push the message through.

“Actions are not necessarily directed at school administration, but about supporting undocumented students on campuses and their fears about what can happen to them and their families under a Donald Trump administration,” she said, as quoted by CNN.

Over the past few years, some local governments that disagree with federal immigration policies have refused to cooperate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, calling themselves “sanctuary cities”.

Students involved in the movement hope to implement similar practices at their campuses and are pressuring their universities to guarantee that they would not release information on students’ immigration status and not allow immigration officers on campus.

Students and activists are particularly concerned about Trump’s plan to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive action introduced by President Obama in 2012 that protects young people from deportation and allows them to work if they meet certain criteria. 

Thaís Marques, a 22-year-old political science graduate student at Rutgers who is also working with Movimiento Cosecha, said she was “pretty devastated” when Trump won the election.

Marques, who holds DACA status, was brought to the U.S. from Brazil when she was five years old, and has been living in Newark since.

“As an undocumented person, I felt a particular kind of fear about what would happen, not just to me, but also the undocumented community in general,” she said.

Over 700,000 people have DACA status, reported Huffington Post, while an estimated 600,000 more are eligible.

On social media, there are those criticizing students over their participation in the movement, stating that students shouldn’t expect their college campuses to protect them.

Some have also called for funding to be cut to schools implementing a sanctuary campus policy.

Image via the Associated Press

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