Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Middlebury Issues Statement on Undocumented Students

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Middlebury President Laurie Patton issued a statement on undocumented students that outlined the institution's principles in this area and new steps it is taking.

November 24, 2016

Dear Members of the Middlebury Community,

I write today to underscore Middlebury's support for all undocumented students, to state what our principles are as an institution in this area, and to announce two new steps we are taking to demonstrate this commitment.

In recent weeks our community has repeatedly shown its solidarity with, and support for, students and other individuals who are concerned that their ability to live and study in this country is in jeopardy. Undocumented students (including DACA students), American-born students who have undocumented family members in the country, and international students whose ability to travel to and from the United States may no longer be assured all have stressed the potential impact of changes in immigration policy and enforcement on their ability to pursue an education in the United States. Last week's rally and protest outside Old Chapel was an inspiring display of empathy and support for and by our fellow community members. I thank the many students who organized and attended the event and the faculty and staff who joined them. We have seen similar displays of support among students, faculty, and staff at the Middlebury Institute.

Middlebury is and will remain unwaveringly committed to providing educational opportunities to students without regard to nationality, place of birth, immigration status, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or economic status. We also support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as children to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

Today there is understandable concern over the future of DACA, though the incoming administration has not commented on its plans. Similarly, discussions about potential deportations of some undocumented residents and the introduction of tighter restrictions for individuals entering or returning to the United States from certain parts of the world would have the potential to disrupt families and economic structures. Such changes could complicate the lives of students who leave and reenter the country to study abroad, to conduct research outside the country, or to visit family.

No one can predict what will happen right now. But I can tell you what Middlebury's approach will be. We will take every legal measure to support our undocumented students as we continue to live up to our principles of educational access and inclusivity. We will continue to safeguard student records and will not voluntarily share them with federal or state law enforcement or other officials. We will continue to provide pro bono legal assistance to undocumented students who seek advice regarding their ability to fully participate in Middlebury's academic programs. And we will work with our Vermont congressional delegation to encourage the continuation of DACA and the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to legal residency for undocumented immigrants who entered the country before the age of 16, who have lived here for at least five consecutive years, and who graduated from a U.S. high school or received a GED.

Today I am announcing two additional steps we are taking. First, starting next year for applicants to Middlebury College's Class of 2022, we will evaluate applications from undocumented prospective students under our need-blind admissions policy with a commitment to meet full demonstrated financial need. In taking this step, we are signaling to the thousands of ambitious and academically gifted young students from immigrant backgrounds across the country that Middlebury College seeks to enroll the best and most promising students regardless of their circumstances. Second, we will increase the amount of pro bono legal assistance we make available to students at the College and the Institute to assist with immigration and travel-related questions and issues. We will bring an immigration attorney to the Middlebury campus in the next two weeks for an information session and individual meetings and we will schedule a comparable day in Monterey. We will provide more details in the coming days and weeks.

Finally, we will continue to work with other institutions to advance the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. To that end, I have joined with other college and university leaders in signing three statements in recent days that affirm our highest principles as an institution.

I want to thank everyone at Middlebury who has contributed ideas and support for our efforts to ensure the safety and security of undocumented students. Working together, I believe we can achieve meaningful progress toward making our campus and others the inclusive places they were meant to be. My warmest wishes for a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Laurie Patton
President

7 Comments

Bravo!

President Patton's statement is a forthright and timely re-affirmation of the fundamental values that Middlebury College and the Middlebury Institute have long embodied. Middlebury's commitment to putting additional resources to work supporting students who feel threatened by political changes in the US makes me proud to be a member of the Institute community.
Steven J Baker, President Emeritus, MIIS

<p>I am a 1976 graduate of MIIFS. I applaud your outreach to and protection of diverse communities of students. However, I've been appalled at the lack of outreach/tolerance of political thinking at odds with the progressive secular agenda of most of academia today. As I recall my days at MIIS, discussion and debate from all sides was welcomed. I sincerely hope that is the case with you today... can you assure me it is?</p>

As a faculty member since 1989 of Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, I have always been a proud member of our ethnically and culturally diverse community, including the international students who have enriched our academic experience with their gift of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and aspirations. I have also been teaching International Migration and Human Security over the last ten years, learning and teaching about the growing importance of international migration and the human security challenges it presents to both migrants and their communities of origin and destination. Also, as an immigrant myself, I find the issues of international migration and human security very important not only as subjects of intellectual inquiry but also as matters of personal relevance. Finally, I have been blessed with life-changing experiences as a high school exchange student and as a college exchange student in this country. I only wish every young person in the world would have such wonderful, albeit often challenging opportunities. For these reasons I cannot be prouder of the Middlebury community and its commitment to support the undocumented students among us against the uncertain and potentially harmful changes that the new political balance of power in Washington and around the country might represent. I congratulate Dr. Patten and other members of the Middlebury leadership on the statement of unwavering commitment to support these students and express my most enthusiastic endorsement. I stand ready to do everything that I can to realize this commitment.

I fully support this statement, but am saddened that it is necessary due to the recent election.

I was surprised to find myself choking up while reading MIIS statement on undocumented students. I'm among those who swore to leave...but until now never felt the relevance of staying. I can't articulate my emotions...but realize that for the first time in my sheltered life, open resistance, demonstration, public exercise of constitutional rights are becoming obligatory acts of solidarity and humanity?

Thank you for your support of immigrants, undocumented and DACA students. It has been through the IEM/MPA joint masters program that I was able to spend my 5th semester in Cuernavaca, Mexico implementing a study abroad program that was designed specifically for heritage seeking DACA students to Mexico. Through the California-Mexico Studies Center, we have successful taken 4 groups of DACA students from 20 universities and community colleges, throughout Southern California to Mexico where they are able to improve their Spanish and learn the political and economic reality of Mexico as well as visit their families and places of origin. The last group is currently in Mexico and will be back this weekend. This program was a dream come true and I am saddened to have to hit pause on it in light of the new presidential administration. Campuses like MIIS are creative spaces where students can design programs, and create new solutions.

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