You are here: American University President Announcements December 14, 2016 Memo

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Memorandum December 14, 2016

AU Community
Neil Kerwin, President
Support for Undocumented Students

On November 21, 2016, I affirmed American University's position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrant students. By joining with other university and college presidents to advocate for continuance of this program, I offered as well to meet with the new administration and members of Congress, to discuss the importance of this program, not only to our institutions, but to the nation.

Shortly after signing on to the statement in support of DACA, I received a petition from members of the AU faculty and staff expressing concern for undocumented persons, requesting that the university afford protection to these members of our community, and asking that we consider becoming a sanctuary campus, which would signify support for AU participants in the DACA program, even if it were modified or discontinued.

I agree with our colleagues that reassurance is very important for members of our community who could be gravely affected by changes to the DACA program. I am currently evaluating the various implications of a sanctuary designation, as well as related actions taken by other institutions and will make a decision on American University's position in mid-January.

In the meantime, I can provide the following support and reassurance to our undocumented students by affirming these commitments:

  • Information about application for admission and financial aid will be provided to prospective students, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Admitted students will not be asked if they are undocumented, nor will they be asked to provide proof of immigration status. However, the Department of Education may require the American University Financial Aid Office to verify and report the immigration status of financial aid applicants seeking need based assistance.
  • Unless authorized by the student, confidential student records of undocumented students will not be released without a warrant, subpoena, court order, or other legal requirement.
  • American University police will not question, hold, or arrest AU students on the basis of immigration status alone.
  • AUPD will not participate in joint immigration enforcement efforts with other law enforcement officials, unless required by law.
  • The Washington College of Law will provide assistance to undocumented students as needed through our Clinical Program.

These actions are consistent with our determination to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all learners and with our historical commitment to global engagement, human rights, and social justice. I invite all members of our community to support undocumented students, including DACA students, especially during the uncertain period of transition to a new administration and any shifts in policy.

Note: This memo was updated to include a clarification about application for need based aid on January 31, 2017.